I get asked this a lot now. As this blog grows, it's always kind of amazing/awesome to see folks following it that DON'T have a child with autism. Some of them are teachers and therapists. Some of them are siblings, step parents and extended family like grandparents or cousins. Some of them just thought my dark sense of humor was kind of funny and somehow found their way to the Facebook page or my Twitter. It was probably all my posts about reality TV or wine. You big lushes.
Whatever way you found yourself here, I am sure glad you are around. You want to know more. How you find it interesting and you are learning so much. Let's face it. Autism parents are rock stars and you just want to work on your autism street cred and hang out at our lunch table. You are more than welcome to do so. Just don't expect my kiddo to share his fries. Expect he'll probably just reach over and eat yours actually.
All the same, the question I hear the most is "How can I help?" You all want to be cool and down with us. You've heard us raging about the jackasses we have had to deal with in our daily lives. You don't want to be the subject to our sleep deprived rage. (That is most wise.) You also get by now that it doesn't take much to make us happy. We celebrate any and all things. Big or small. So yes, we will be grateful to any help we get along the way. Here are a few simple things to make yourself fanfreakingtastic (It is too a word Auto Correct) in my tired eyes.
1) Once I had to half carry out the kiddo out of the mall mid meltdown. The kindest thing happened. A teenage girl saw us coming to the door. She swiftly opened it wide for me and held it open till we passed. I yelled "Thank you!" over the kiddo's screams. Maybe she had a sibling or knew what she saw coming at her. She certainly knew what to do and cleared a path. If you see a parent wrestling something that looks like the Tasmanian Devil going full whirl, hold the door. We only got two hands. That helps immensely.
2) Again, trying to exit a kid's birthday party where the kiddo became massively overwhelmed, the owner of the bouncy house place decided this was a perfect time to ask me EVERY SINGLE QUESTION ABOUT AUTISM. He also wanted me to know how bad he felt about my son's sensory overload which he repeated multiple times as I was trying to pick my son off the floor and dodging his kicks with his snow boots on. Just typing this gets me all in a tizzy about it again. Dude, time and a place!!! Mid meltdown ain't it. That's great that you want to make a parent feel better and you want them to know you are so compassionate and open minded. However attempting a Q and A session when the child is in mid crisis is takes a bit of shine off your polish.
3) Remember when that loved one in your life first told you that their child had autism? Or was just going through the long process of being diagnosed? I bet you said something like "If there is anything I can do..." It's been a few years since then. Want to rock my world? Say it again. Say it now that I've been doing this since he was 22 months old and now he's 9. Offer what you can of course within reason. I don't expect anyone to send me on a week long cruise while they are watching the kiddo. (Although, so wouldn't say no friends and family. Just saying!) Sometimes just calling or texting a person. Sending a funny email or a post on their "wall" a Hello and how do you do? It really means so much when you are just going and going and going... (Again, people who know me. Feel free to insist I go away for a weekend. Twist my arm. Really)
4) Include my kid with your kids. I don't expect them to be BFFs with the lad. Let's face it. I've already admitted he's a French Fry thief. That's a serious crime in the grade school years. But if you are having folks over and you got kids, sit them down and explain a little autism to them. I bet they already know some stuff about it. They probably know some kids at school with it. Keep it age appropriate. Explain to them a little extra patience goes a long way. Doctors and therapists are always up our butts to set up some play dates with typical peers and let me tell ya, that's easier said than done. You want to help my kiddo cause you love him? Let your kid be his role model. Or bad influence. Whatever you got. :-)
5) Don't use the words "autistic" or "retarded" as slurs. Ever. I'm not talking just in front of me. I mean in front of EVERYBODY! You know what I mean when I say this. Don't be that douche. Don't try to argue with me. I'm telling you like it is. Don't be that person. Don't be so far removed from it that you can't see the pain it can cause. A simple car accident can cause brain damage and a perfectly healthy person can then be in the same exact boat. So autism, delays, brain damage, special needs, etc... It's closer to you than you think. Don't be tossing those terms around like you are untouchable. You are not.
Well that's all I can think of at the moment. I just want to thank you fries again for being here. Whatever your reason for being here. I'd give you a big old sloppy kiss if I could. How about a side of fries? I share. :-)