Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Did you really just say that?

Right. Another ranting post ensues....

This is based on an accumulation of utterances I've had thrown at me over the last few months. I've had a few comments on my blog from other parents of autistic children and I thought that maybe this was one that quite a few of us could relate to. And if you would like to comment below to let off some steam but all means write away...

After six months in the area we are still meeting new people on a daily basis and working out what ones to keep and what ones to discard immediately. The kids have a heavy afterschool/baby activity schedule and this  involves meeting other parents, a task that takes its toll on me...sometimes. I've grown accustomed to recanting our life story time after time as we are weighed and measured by yet another group of mothers and/or fathers and this is usually when it happens. I have to be honest and say that the majority of people who utter this are from the upper class. And that faction of the upper class who think it seems to say whatever goes through your mind at any given time, however un-PC, however personal, however rude or condescending.I know it genuinely doesn't come from a bad place but I can't help feeling a little insulted that the tone in which this is uttered implies that I somehow forgot to consider this fact...

Here goes:

UC (Upper class): How many children do you have?
Me: I have two, a little girl called B who is ten months old and an older boy, A who is eleven.
UC: Gosh, that is a rather large age gap.
Me: Yes, it is...
UC: Why did you wait so long to have another child?
UC: It wasn't the recession was it? Awful business...
Me: No, I went to university between kids and my son is autistic so he's harder work than most children.

UC: You already have a disabled child and yet you decided to have another one? Well done you! You are so brave! Are you not worried that she will turn out the same? And then you'll have two autistic children...

Me: (inward sigh) Erm...

There you go.
That is what happens now on almost a weekly basis. I spent 30 minutes defending my right to have more children at a toddler tea party once and another time, I stood in the pissing rain talking though the genetic gambling game I was playing with another. They have started to blend into one another now and you know what, I'm too polite for my own good. At some point in the conversation after they will usually utter the phrase "You don't mind me asking, do you? to which I always reply no.

But I do mind, I really do mind and sometimes just want to tell them to shut up. Horrid, I know but I wouldn't dream of saying this to anyone, let alone someone I have just met thirty seconds ago.

Another cracker is this one. Now this is one usually uttered by parents of  A's friends. Again, it doesn't come from a bad place and again I am polite and talk through it with them. I think the original intention is that somehow saying this will make me feel better about A's autism. After being told when we meet that A is autistic I presume that people, either based on watching Rainman or some Channel Four documentary, stand back and assess A. This assessment inspires this phrase...

"Well...he's not really THAT autistic is he?"

This doesn't make me feel better and I know that we could be worse off but...really?

I can't even finish this post. these phrases always stop me in my tracks for a moment.

I'll pick this up when the mist descends.

Has this happened to anyone else?


  1. Its good to have a rant!
    But dont get me started!!!

  2. Excellent post.
    DS 1 is 11 and has AS. I often get either 'but he looks OK to me' or 'don't worry my/all (NT) kids do that too'.
    And the one that gets my goat is 'what's his special talent then, they all have them don't they?'

  3. I can't believe anyone could be so rude. Wow. That really takes the biscuit.

    I'd feel like replying "you're cometely stuck up and your husband's ugly yet you decided to have children? Weren't you worried they'd be complete w£&@&rs?"

  4. I get the same as Ellen - 'he seems fine' and 'my kid does that all the time'. They usually stop such comments when I tell them that it took me two and a half hours to get Nipper to tidy up his toys as he just wouldn't do it at all, and when I tell them that Nipper has never said the words 'how', 'why', and 'when'. Since most kids of Nipper's age (4) have been saying 'why' almost perpetually for the last year they finally shut up and accept what I'm telling them.
    I haven't had any comments about having another child. That's an interesting one as had I known about Nipper's Asperger's then I might not have had Tiddler. Not because I was worried about having another disabled child but because I'd be worried that I might not be able to give both of them the attention that they need (whether disabled or not). Having said that, I knew that Nipper was bloody hard work and still went for it!

  5. Wow. That is unbelievable, and I admire your restraint. Wouldn't you just love to throttle them!!

    When my daughter was a newborn she was in a brace for her hips. A shop assistant took a look and asked me if she was in a brace because I had hurt her. What the....!!???!!

  6. @Casdok: Ah go on... It's incredibly cathartic. No sooner had a posted this, I had to take A to drama and got into a huge fight with the father of two boys who also attend the classes. From the moment he clapped eyes on A, he had him pegged as some sort of juvenile deliquent!

  7. @Ellen: Thank you for your support. Your blog is really excellent. People still fail to listen to us when we explain some of the intricacies of ASD. xxx

  8. @Pooky: I resist the urge every time! As well as wittily retorting "your face or Yo mama!" Lolz. xx

  9. @Tilly: I think we spoke briefly before about subsequent children after having a disabled child. I have to admit that I often looked at other parents with an eldest child that was disabled and think the same thing. I just decided it shouldn't stop us from having what we want. If B turns out to be the same then so be it, the huge age gap should make dealing with it easier. xx

  10. @This Mid Life 30's Mum: How is your daughter now? We must endure the ignorance of others. xx

  11. The one I often get is, "how difficult can he really get?". I don't think I should have to explain how bad he can get when he's in the middle of a meltdown.
    I think it's partly because he seems so placid and happy when he's in his buggy, so lots of people just don't really see what he can be like.


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