With the 12th Annual World Autism Awareness Day approaching on April 2– 2019, it is important to conduct awareness and support to autism families and patients with autism spectrum disorder in an autism-friendly environment.
At times, people approach families of children with autism spectrum disorder and say things that should have never left their mouth. Although unintentionally said, the words can hurt the family members. Given below are the list of some ‘do & don’t say’ statements to maintain a good relation with autistic families.
Ask: “How is your child doing?”
This is what a person may ask the parent of a child ‘without’ special needs. Consider a child with autism spectrum disorder like other kids and possibilities is that the parent of a child, on the spectrum, will share the details child’s treatment and educational experience.
Ask: “Your son/daughter is adorable.”
Offer compliments similar to the one used for any typical child.
Enquire: “Is there anything I can help you with?” or“You can talk to me.”
Offer useful solutions and suggestions to help a parent with their daily tasks, like shopping, babysitting, paying bills or other chores. Understanding and helping them, aids in venting their suppressed emotions and a friend with whom they can share their feelings.
Search: “I do not know what situation you are going through. But I am willing to listen to your problems.”
Accepting the gap in the knowledge about the spectrum of disorders faced by their child, offering a heartfelt help can lend emotional support for the parent.
Never probe: “What special gifts does your child have? Is he/she an artistic or musical genius?”
Some individuals (not all)with autism spectrum disorder are gifted with extraordinary artistic and musical skills, but most of them are not lucky to have acquired them. Only an estimated 10 percent of the kids have savant qualities.
Do not say: “By looking at your child, no one can guess that she has autism! To me, she looks very much normal.”
Although this statement looks like a compliment, most parents of a child with autism would not take it as a praise. One should know that in autism, the term ‘normal’ is replaced with either ‘typical’ or ‘neuro-typical’.
Never say: “Everything happens for the best.”
Refrain from using clichés! Parents of a child with autism spectrum disorder really know how challenging it is to handle their kids. The said statement puts a positive spin on the diagnosis, but the parents of a ‘newly diagnosed child’, do not feel anything that is ‘best’ in it. So, do not instruct them about coming to those terms!
Do not say: “I know exactly about the though passing you are passing through. My cousin has a friend who has a child with autism.”
Although it is human nature to show empathy for the family of a child with autism, still it is wrong to say that you know ‘exactly’ what the parents are going through. How can one know their condition if they themselves are not a parent of a child with autism?
So, please do not offer any unsolicited advice to the parents of kids with autism. They go into lots of research, sort through a myriad of treatments to determine the right cure for their child.