If I could pin point one statement that has been said to me countless times when I mention my kiddo's autism diagnosis it is "He looks so normal." Wanna see my eyes roll? Say that to me with that knowing, head nodding, thinking your giving me the world's grandest compliment look about your face.
If you are an ASD parent, you know the WTF of this statement. "Looks so normal"? Bitch please! What am I suppose to say to this? "Gee thanks so much! You know, we've been working really hard to get him to that stealth ninja level of autism. Nice to know its working! Hey your kid looks really less annoying than the last time I saw him. How ya pulling that off?"
Listen, I know this statement comes from a place of meaning well but dudes "You're killing me Smalls!" Here's the thing. My kiddo doesn't look anything other than seriously good looking. Sometimes I feel bad that I don't share his picture because he really is just that cute. (Which is something that has helped saved his bum a thousand times). I don't see autism or normal. I just see my kid. Isn't that all you see if you got one of those running around your house?
Maybe you think you should acknowledge somehow that all the therapy work is paying off but you are unsure how to say it. Here's the thing, I'm not sending him to secret agent spy school with "Q" as his teacher. (Although that would be awesome! Oh the homework would be great!). I'm doing all this stuff with him to give him a chance at a successful life. The same thing you are doing when you get on your kid to study, or cart them to practice or rehearsal or whatever floats their boat. Yeah the work is different. The end results will be too. However, "normal" is not our goal. Happy is. Less anxious is. Content is. Satisfied is.
Now I'm sure somebody reading this is like "yeah but those autism kids have those stims and they flap and I can spot them because I'm down like that. I watch Parenthood and the Big Bang Theory". Yeah they stim but guess what? You do too! Go flap your hands. Right now. Stop scrolling and flap. Feels good right? Might be something you do when you've been working with your hands a while and want a break. Or your bouncing your leg as you read this. Chewing on a pen maybe? Twirling a piece of your hair. Scratching your neck because the seam on your shirt is poking your skin and driving you nuts. So yeah, you're right in the boat with those kids. Yes, they may do it more than you but you are right there with them. You just didn't have a section of your IEP addressing them. Hell, you didn't even have an IEP. At the end of the day, it's great that you might be understanding of some of the signs of autism but no one is handing out extra credit for it. Shall I acknowledge when you kid is whiny? Sees silly doesn't it? You don't have to point out my kiddo's autism. Believe me, I'm very much aware of it.
You want to say something don't ya. You just feel you have too! OK I'll throw you a life line. Tell that parent simply "He/She is awesome/wonderful/fantastic as always!" Honestly you would make a lot of parents happy with that simplicity. Trying to tell me you can't see his neurology? Well, if you keep saying that you better learn to duck. My purse might become airborne. I'm just saying. And it's an autism mom purse, so you know it's gonna be heavy. Oh wait, you don't know about what I have to carry with me? Oh honey. That's gonna be a post for another day. Sit down. Order another side of fries. Going through that list of essentials is going to take a while. ;-)