As I tackle a mountain of laundry this morning and wait for yet another doctor's office to call me back, I got some random thoughts bouncing around my head. So pardon this word explosion. You might relate or not, which if that's the case, try not to take this as personal but rather educational. A teachable moment as they say.
Proving your autism street cred. Don't tell me as soon as you meet me that your aunt's boyfriend's sister once worked in a summer camp for special needs kids. I don't care. I know you're just trying to relate to me. I know it comes from a good place but please stop. Trying to prove how down you are to an O.G. ("original gansta" in case you didn't know) like me, isn't working. It's just drawing the line in the sand, driving us further apart. Let's pretend there is a game called "Six Degrees of Autism Separation". If your connection is that far removed that they may in fact been in a movie with Kevin Bacon, you're an "autism tourist" in my eyes. It's all cool that you can dig the culture but I know you're not a local okay? Feel free to ask me for directions but in no way am I the only map around here.
Let's all just agree that after a certain number of years you get what I call "autism tenure". This is not to say I know it all BUT being told that vaccines may cause autism isn't really news nor does it really help. My kid is 9. What would you like me to do with this information? Go back in time and stop it? (Which I wouldn't even if I could) Or the fact that I had a c section. Or older fathers have more autistic kids? Gee honey, let me go back in time and NOT fall in love with you. Discussing what may of caused my son's autism isn't exactly what I consider small talk. It's a serious debate worthy topic. Most parents I know don't even want to go into it with doctors and professionals because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. It doesn't change the now of our situation. I'd rather focus on that. Folks with "autism tenure" are in grave danger of rolling their eyes so hard they get stuck. So please, you see parents of a teenager with autism, don't ask them if they breast fed their kid. It doesn't help.
You know what I want to hear because I know there is someone reading this right getting upset or indignant that I dare even complain what is said to me when it's well meaning? Nothing. That's right nothing. You know what you can do. LISTEN. Listen to what I say and ask questions from that. Ask thought provoking ones too. Not just "Why is your kiddo randomly knocking on walls as he paces up and down the hallway? Is he looking for ghosts?" (This was said to me recently. Good times!) I have no clue why he does and even when I do answer something like that, the answer never seems to satisfies the person. There's no winning with someone who questions what my kiddo is doing because it's clear to me they just want me to stop him from doing what he is doing. (which I'm guessing is sensory/coping skill related) This is not to say if he was kicking holes in the wall, yeah, I'm gonna stop that. Dude, I'm not dense. But knocking on a the wall or pacing around at a very crowded gathering of people he doesn't see all that often, is it really hurting you? Or anyone else? Cut him some slack. He's only nine. It's not like he can down a glass of wine or step outside for a smoke break when he needs a breather like you or I might. I know what the alternative can be, a meltdown. Trust me, his knocking on the wall is nothing. Don't question my "autism tenure" here. I've done my years here with him. You haven't.
I said it recently on my Facebook page in response to a question about extended family gatherings, "They want a Norman Rockwell painting for their family gathering. We don't live a Norman Rockwell life" It's just what it is. It's especially maddening for me because I don't even have any neurotypical kiddos and I can draw from that experience. Like this is the only life I know. Good lord, if one got dropped off on my doorstep hitting milestones and reading at grade level, well, I wouldn't even know where to begin with that. My house is like living in the movie "Groundhog Day". We do it the same way, every day or there is HELL TO PAY!
Now pardon me as I go fold these incredibly long jeans. Damn, as the kiddo gets bigger, the laundry just gets more insane. I thought that would ease up but it didn't. Groundhog Day moment once again! ;-)