Reasons I've heard that my son can't possibly be autistic:
"He's so smart"
"He's fine, you just need to discipline him more"
"He doesn't look autistic"
"He's so loving"
"All kids his age are that energetic"
"But he's such a happy kid"
"He makes eye contact"
"He's just stubborn. He'll talk eventually -- don't worry about it!"
"He's just practicing selective hearing -- kids do that"
I get it, I do. In a world of self-diagnosis thanks to Doctor Google, folks can be skeptical. The people that care about you don't want there to be anything "wrong". I understand. You think you're being helpful and reassuring.
But you know what? When you tell me my kid can't possibly be Autistic, you sound like an asshole. Don't be surprised if I roll my eyes or take in a big deep breath before I talk to you after a statement like that. It doesn't come off as kind and reassuring -- as I'm sure you meant it -- it comes off like you think you know my kid better than I do.
When I tell you that my kid is Autistic, don't question me. Don't ask me if I'm sure. Do you really think I'd make a statement like that if I wasn't pretty damn sure? Don't tell me I'm over-thinking things or that you're just not sure if the diagnosis is right, because hey, he doesn't look autistic. Are you a Doctor? A Social Worker? A parent to an Autistic kid? No? Than just listen and go with it.
Most folks think they know what an autism diagnosis means, but they really truly have no idea (I was once one of those folks). If you're honestly interested, maybe ask a few questions about what lead to the diagnosis or what's the best way to interact with my kid to encourage cooperation and learning on his part.
Just don't tell me he isn't autistic.
Because believe me, I'd love for that to be true. I would love for his life (and mine) to be easier -- a life with fewer roadblocks and detours, but that's not in the cards. When you claim that he can't possibly be autistic, you're devaluing the struggles we face, the successes we fought for, and the path we're on. And that pisses me off. And what's one thing you really don't want? A well educated, pissed off Mom. Just sayin'...
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*The best response I've received from friends/family/coworkers, by far, has been from my little brother. When I told him about the diagnosis, he told me "I have nothing reassuring to say cause there is nothing to say. It is what it is". I know that may come off as weird to a lot of folks, but it was actually the most reassuring response. In typical fashion, he said exactly what I needed to hear. It is what it is, so get it together and move forward. Thanks brother!*
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As always, every time I write about autism, it is from my perspective, from my personal experience. I know I'm not an expert and I don't claim to be. I'm doing the best I can given our unique set of circumstances.