This part of an email I found in my inbox over the weekend. I get this question a lot and I get why I get it a lot. Apparently I have a no bullshit attitude. I can't say that description isn't accurate.
Is my skin thicker than most? Well maybe it's just a case of being more used to those types of reactions towards us than it being thicker. Experience and time is a Hell of a healer for those raw feelings of vulnerability. Accepting that there will always be those not so accepting is just part of this #TeamQuirky lifestyle. Sometimes it's a case of just simply being unexposed which leads to them being unaware about autism. I can't get mad at that. I can educate that. I can enlighten that. I and Kiddo can spread the good autism word all over that but I'm never mad at it. (Truth be told, sometimes I get a little "You have got to be kidding me." with those folks because I think the world is really tiny and the stats are really high and how can anyone NOT know someone with autism by now.) Getting annoyed though doesn't set the best tone for another person to be open to learning though. So I swallow it.
Now willful ignorance? Plain old judgemental super parents? The ones that are more concerned with being righteous than actually right? Cover your eyes and clutch your pearls those who can't handle foul language but I have to unleash my inner Jersey Girl here. FUCK THAT NOISE!
For those who prefer a kinder and gentler statement, I'll let indi singer Tori Amos say it for me.
"I'm gonna free myself from your opinion."
Tori Amos Unrepentant Geraldines
I guess that's a classier way to say it. ;-)
Every time you waste the time and energy caring about what some asshat has to say about you, your kid and your family, a baby unicorn cries or the terrorists win or an angel weeps or whatever analogy you need to get it in your head.
If someone is clearly ignorant to what is going on. If someone is wondering out loud why your kid isn't talking, responding, interacting, or whatever autism challenge du jour you got going on, tell them why. That's the first thing that's going to make you feel better and help you start to get that thick skin. Doesn't matter if the person in question is 8 or 80. Open your mouth. Be the voice that advocates and educates. Do you think you just get a callous overnight? Nope, you got to do the work to develop one. That starts by speaking up.
Now of course if your kid is mid meltdown or you really got your hands full, you cannot sit and have a "Come to Autism Jesus" conversation. That being said, if a kid on the playground wanders up to yours and says "Why doesn't he/she talk?", tell them. Don't expect the parent with them to do it. You do it. Give it to them straight from the source. As age appropriate as you can. Right to the point. (And when I think about it, this applies to adults too. Keep it simple.)
I know some folks might be thinking they need some pile of snappy one liners and comebacks but honestly, save those for the real jackasses of the world. "He/she has autism" is really the best opening line you need.
If they are an asshole about your kid, I assure you they are an asshole about lots of other things too. Don't waste your energy trying to change them. Give them a straw because they SUCK! Seriously, that's how you get that thick skin. You just stop giving a crap.
Just an FYI, red lipstick pairs best with a IDGAF attitude. It's just science.