Friday, July 16, 2010

Autism "Experts"!

Autism "experts"!

For those of us with a child on the spectrum, we all know at least one "expert". The "expert" is that person that has a friend with a child on the spectrum, or their uncles girlfriends cousins grandson has Autism, or the person who watched a movie about Autism and now they feel they have graduated to the title of "expert" in the field of Autism. Blah!

Everywhere I turn I find one of these "experts". Two days ago a new neighbor told me that when she worked in a preschool (as an aide no less - not even a special needs professional, but an aide) that she took a parent aside to let them know that they needed to have their child tested because she was sure the child was Autistic, based of course on her experience with an Autistic cousin. I can only hope she was talking out her ass and not really playing armchair doctor and telling parents that their child has Autism.

As a parent of a child on the spectrum it gets so tiring to all the "advice" from "experts". My son is 6.5 yrs old - we've know since he was 14 months old that something was "wrong" for lack of a better term. We've been dealing with this for all these years and yet, I would never presume I knew enough to diagnosis a child with Autism.

And the crazy thing is, the spectrum of Autism is so broad - no two children on the spectrum are the same - what idiosyncrasies one child has, will not be the same with the next child. What therapies work for one child, will not necessarily work for the next child. What medication will work to help with the comorbidities for one child, will not always help the next child.

In the end, what those of us with a loved on on the spectrum really need is less of the "experts", no matter how well meaning, no matter how many Autism movies you've watched, no matter that your best friend has 2 or 3 kids on the spectrum, no matter that you once saw an Autistic child in the local Walmart, it does not, I repeat, does not make *you* an expert.

What we do need is support, love and patience. Sometimes we are going through hard times, sometimes things will be smooth sailing. We need that support and love not only during the good times, but most especially when things are rocky. When we think we can't possibly go on any more...when we can't possibly handle one more meltdown....one more doctors appointment....one more call from school ...or whatever the case may be....that is when we need all the love and support we can get. Telling us we need to learn how to "cope" isn't helpful at all. Sorry, it just isn't. Come walk a day in our shoes and see how well you cope. Telling us to read more books isn't helpful at all. Again, sorry, for must of us we've been reading every book we can get our hands on. Our shelves are full of books about Autism. Telling us we aren't a good friend simply because we are dealing with major issues with our Autistic loved one isn't helpful. There is a whole world out there that you just possibly can't even begin to imagine if you aren't living it, so yes, a little support goes a long way.

If you are one of those "experts", I implore you to take a step back and think before you speak....is what you are about to say going to benefit in any way, shape or form? If you can't answer that question honestly, then you need to keep quiet and just be supportive!

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