By Samantha Pierce
If you’re the parent of someone on the autism spectrum you have probably been the beneficiary of some unsolicited advice from strangers, friends, and family. A few months back I asked my Facebook friends to share things that neurotypical people (NTs) said to them about autistics that they found irritating. I was intending to make a list with a few snarky comments added in to pass around to friends and family.
After more than forty responses that translated into a four page document I realized that I had hit a nerve with my question. There was a lot of raw emotion, expressed mostly by parents of autistic individuals, stirred up by the comments that many of us endure from friends, family, and strangers.
My idea of making a simple list went out the window and I instead decided to do a series of articles discussing the kinds of comments my friends reported having to deal with. So far I’ve sorted the many comments I received into five categories: discipline to address the many comments that either implied or outright stated that parents of autistic children were failing to properly discipline their children; disbelief to address the comments from people who seemed to have difficulty accepting that autism is real and the individuals they were dealing with really were autistic; diagnosis to discuss those comments about the nature of autism and what autistics can and can not do; disdain to discuss comments that talked down to and dehumanized autistics; disinformation to address those comments that actively pushed unsupported and disproven information about autism.
Hopefully this series will shed a little light on autism and encourage people to think twice about what the choose to say to and about autistics.