I’m sorry—it must be so hard
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Autism parents already know how difficult autism can be, but not just for them. They see the struggles their child goes through, and that’s where the real difficulties lie. Most parents of children on the spectrum don’t want sympathy. Instead, they want to know that others won’t turn away from them when they need them most. They may need a shoulder to cry on, or a friend to give them a few minutes to get comfortable and breathe to reduce stress.
Here’s what to say instead: I can see how stressed out you are. What can I do to help?
I know someone with autism, so I understand
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock Outsiders to autism often believe that autistic individuals are, generally very similar, or exhibit similar behaviors. However, as most people on the spectrum, or people who work with those on the spectrum, will tell you, there is no set standard for what autism looks like. Maureen Lacert, a behavior analyst, special education teacher, and Director of Nashoba Learning Group, told boston.com, “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism. They’re all such unique individuals. They’re unique in their learning. They’re unique in their behaviors. It requires a unique approach in order to best teach any individual on the spectrum.” These are common signs of autism to look for in a child.
Here’s what to say instead: I know autism can be so different in people. Can you tell me about how it affects your child? I’d love to know more.
Autism wasn’t as common a few years ago
Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
It’s true that autism is more commonly diagnosed than it was just a decade or so ago. According to autismspeaks.org, autism was diagnosed in about 1 in 166 people a decade ago, and is now diagnosed in 1 in 68. However, it’s far from a made-up disorder. Dr. Oksana Hagerty sheds some light on this topic, as an educational and developmental psychologist who also serves as a learning specialist at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida. “More research certainly led to a better understanding of the condition. But social relativity also plays an important role as better economic conditions elevated the perception of the status of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and specific learning disorders (SLD).” Dr. Hagerty explains that, in other economically disadvantaged countries, these types of disorders are considered “‘luxury’ level disabilities” because they aren’t equipped with the resources necessary for diagnoses.
Here’s what to say instead: I’ve heard autism is on the rise. I’d love to help you bring awareness to the disorder so more children and adults can get the help they need.