How To Not Tick Off A Special Needs Mom

As a mother, you will always have someone telling you how to parent. They will tell you what to do and what not to do. They will teach you about your child, since obviously we can't figure these things out on our own, right?

It's irritating. Exhausting. Completely rude, and yet, people still think it is an acceptable thing to do.
How To Not Tick Off A Special Needs Mom



Lately, my favorite "lesson" that I am so graciously given is being told "That's normal" about something one of my kids is doing. Now, what normal is to me and what it is to other people is completely different. MY normal consists of behaviors that go hand in hand with Autism/being neurodiverse. Other "normal's" are actually the typical behaviors you expect from a child of whatever age you're referring to. I don't need to be coddled and think that what my normal is the same normal that you experience. I know it's not.

Since I know it is hard for people to keep their opinions to themselves about other people's children, I am giving a sample list of what to avoid saying, so that you don't tick off the mother of a special needs child. Let's get started!


Whining

When I speak of my child whining, I'm not talking about your typical whine. Ya know, the kind they do when they want something and were told they can't have it. Or they're super tired and whining is the only way to tell you how tired they are. No, I'm talking about the whining that occurs because my child cannot actually communicate, with words, what they need to say. So they are whining because they are frustrated at not being able to talk. It is an almost constant way of communicating...all day every day. Don't tell me that is normal.
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How To Not Tick Off A Special Needs Mom "Picky" Eating

I tend not to even use this term, because it suggests that there is a choice being made. My kids can't eat certain foods. Not because they're allergic, but because the texture or taste will actually make them vomit. Having a food touch your tongue and it immediately causing that sort of reaction, isn't a choice. It isn't "picky" eating. It is a food aversion. Don't tell me that is normal.


Repeating Words/Sentences

Yes, kids can be super annoying and say something over and over.. Like saying "Mom" repeatedly. That's not what I'm talking about here. When I say my child is repetitive in their words/sentences, I mean we have conversations like this..
Child: It's a boat
Me: Yep
Child: It's a boat
Me: I know
Child: It's a boat
Me: Yes, it's a boat
Child: It's a boat
Me: I see that. It's a boat
Child: It's a boat
Me: Yes, sweetie. I know. It's a boat.
Child: It's a boat
Me: Okay. We have to stop saying it now...


My child gets stuck on something like a scratched record and cannot move past it and will actually have a meltdown if you stop responding to it. Don't tell me that is normal.


How To Not Tick Off A Special Needs Mom
Can't Sit Still


Again, yes, all kids may have trouble sitting still at certain ages. But when I say they can't sit still, I mean literally they cannot stop moving. When my 9 year old still, to this day, cannot sit through a meal without getting up, fidgeting, moving about her in seat, etc.. I'm not talking about a "typical" behavior. I'm talking about something that any other "typical" kid her age is able to do without issue. Don't tell me that is normal.


Spinning


Children love to spin around. That's one of the most fun things you get in childhood that you lose the energy for as you grow! However, I remember as a child that I would spin until I got dizzy, take a break, then see if I could spin again after the dizzy feeling went away. My niece is not like that. She spins and spins and spins and spins as if there is nothing that could ever stop her. She runs into things and still continues to spin. She hurts herself and still continues to spin. Spinning is a way that she stims. The sort of non-stop spinning that she does is not "typical". Don't tell me that is normal.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I could make a whole series of posts about this. I have been hearing these things way too long and have seen others in the special needs community being told even more obscure things were "normal". I don't understand why, when I talk about a behavior my Autistic child is doing, people feel the need to try to "comfort" me by telling me "Oh, that's completely normal".

It's not a comfort. I don't need to be comforted. I'm not upset. You know what is upsetting, though? People, not in my daily world, trying to tell me what is happening in my daily world. People, without kids on the spectrum, telling me that my kid isn't on the spectrum. I know what I am talking about. I do. I don't need nor want your opinion on things you do not know. It's rude. It's uncalled for. It's not helpful. Being told your "normal" as a child, just to grow up and see that you're not the "normal" you thought you were really sucks. I won't allow you to do that to my kids, so please just stop.


- A Geeky Ginger -


What are some words of wisdom you've received about your special needs child (or even yourself) that you really could have done without? Post in the comments!


12 comments

  1. What a lovely read. Some people really have no idea what special need Moms go through. Guess some just don't understand.

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    1. Yup.. People don't understand. That's a big issue. Understanding anything is important to be able to bring about change.

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  2. I don't have children of my own, but I can relate to some people thinking I'm normal, especially when I tell people that I'm on the spectrum. Some people think, " But you write sooo well!" or "I didn't know. You don't look it!" Of course, I don't look it. I do what in the AS world is called "passing", so that people wouldn't look at me weird, and say to themselves, "What is HER problem?" but that doesn't mean I don't suffer and that nothing is wrong with me. I would like to say to those people. Don't judge. Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, "If you judge others, you have no time to love them."

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    1. I despise that phrase.."You don't look it". I always reply with some snarky remark, like "Well, I dress myself to hide it". It's so ridiculous that people actually think that they can look at someone on the spectrum and know which box to put them in (since that is the ultimate goal). Ugh... I could rant on for days lol.

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  3. I'm happy to see that this post isn't about someone being nasty but people actually trying to be nice... What would you prefer people to say? I'm genuinely learning here as I am not familiar with your situation nor do I know any children with autism. Very enlightening.

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    1. People being cruel about my Autistic children (or even myself) is a whole other kind of blog post. I tend not to get into those, because it infuriates me too much. The problem here is that people are trying to tell someone that their child is "normal" and to not "worry" about the behavior they exhibit. I have had several doctors do that with my toddler, which prolonged her wait for getting a diagnosis and the therapies she needed! Because they wanted to "wait and see"...as if she was going to grow out of CLEAR Autistic traits. The problem is thinking that we, as the parents of these kids, don't know what we're seeing on a daily basis. And that you (not you personally), as an outsider, could possibly know better and feel the need to comment on it. We don't need the comments or to feel like we should brush off the clear behavior we see, when that behavior could be helped.

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    2. I guess I would prefer that, if I say something about my child stimming through spinning, people don't respond with "Umm.. ALL children do that?!". A simple "Aw, how cute" would suffice. Or "Oh, I didn't know that kids would stim through spinning". But it is rarely that.

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  4. Wow, I never knew about the texture problem. People need to hear more about what it is really like, because otherwise they just never know unless it happens to them. Keep telling your story.

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    1. Oh yes, textures are a huge battle within my household.. for everyone. We all have one texture aversion or another. My oldest child has severe food aversions because of it. It is associated with Sensory Processing Disorder, which kind of goes hand in hand with Autism. Very common. Thanks for your comment

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  5. People should know the difference and the daily strugle that mother with child with special needs go through every day. People will never understand and always judge but this is part of human personality.

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  6. I am a teacher and have taught kids with special needs and I hear ya! What is normal for some children may not be for others. It's best that we do not compare and meet the needs of the child the best we can. Thanks for sharing your story and doing your best as a mom.

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  7. I couldn't agree with you more. Even as a parent of a child who does not have any special needs, it gets on my nerves when people who don't have kids tell me what I should do, so I can't even imagine how p**** off I would be in my child had special needs and people who have no idea what they are talking about would tell me what to say or do! Power to you, Girl!

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