Saturday, November 10, 2012

Two Phrases You Should Never Say

There are two phrases a I hear a lot as an autism parent that I am writing to tell you - don't say them.  If you say one phrase I'm about to describe, you'll just look silly, and if you say the other, you will be unkind.

Sorry there slick.  We're just not.  There are "autistic like" behaviours people can have, because autism is defined by behaviour.  But being socially awkward or a little OCD about where you like to sit doesn't mean you "have a little bit of autism".  It's like saying to a clinically depressed person that "we're all depressed" when we sometimes feel sad, or saying to a person diagnosed with terminal cancer that "we all have a little bit of cancer" (which is not untrue, it's just that our immune system zapped the cells before they grew into a nasty tumour).
Diagnostics exist for a reason, and based on said diagnostics, you either have autism or you don't.  To say otherwise is ludricrous.

By definition, enough autistic behaviours make you have autism.  Do not try to "normalize" what for millions of people is a very difficult disability with which to live.

Phase Two - "I don't know how you do it."

When I hear this, here is how it translate in my brain...
"I am so glad this isn't my life."
Unfornately this only serves to remind me that it is my life, even if it's not yours.

The reality is we are all very capable of dealing with what life throws at us if we are forced to do so.  Circumstances shape our behaviour in a way we can't always imagine.  As a parent who loves his children, I have two choices, either deal with it and do the very best I can, or give them up to child services and hope for the best.  Since I could never do the latter, I am left with the former.

We do it because we have no choice.  That doesn't make us heroes.  It makes us human.


  1. Thanks for this. I really appreciate it when people give this kind of advice, since I do my level best not to be asinine whenever possible, and tips for achieving that goal are helpful. I'm reasonably confident that I've never said #1. As for #2, I fear that it's possible. If I have, then what I meant by it is: "I really admire you and the way that you're handling this difficult situation," but I can see how it could sound different.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Sara. For what it's worth, I would prefer you word #2 just as you said - I would love to hear that!

  3. Hi Angel,

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