While waiting in line at Trader Joe’s in Manhattan, I overheard a conversation behind me. Some guy was complaining about his sister’s kid, who was autistic.
He didn’t believe in that crap, he said, because that whole autism thing is just a politically correct way of saying her kid’s a brat, and it’s probably because his sister is too lazy a parent to give him the beating that would straighten him out.
That’s when the young man at the front of the line sent me to a cash register, so I didn’t get a chance to respond. But this guy’s statement has been bugging me ever since so I’ll take the time to deal with it now.
Our son is on the autism spectrum. We have it easy because he’s very high functioning. He’s only mildly affected: his cognitive/mental and physical attributes are all typical, but he does have trouble with social and emotional cues as so many autistic children do.
We’re also lucky we live in New York and our state cares about its citizens, so they’re getting us lots of help. We have therapists visit in the weekday mornings, and he goes to a class to help him every weekday afternoon.
Having said that, arranging all this was a nightmare. It took my wife and I acting as a team to make it happen. It wasn’t a smooth process at all. When therapists visit, that’s not time off for us either. We’re involved in what’s going on there as well.
When Liam goes to his classes, that leaves me a little time to take care of my day-to-day life stuff: cleaning, running errands, assignments, prepping dinner, although normally I just want to take a nap. But this is the time to get the necessities taken care of, because everything else is all Liam, all the time.
And again, I’m saying this realizing that we’re very lucky parents.
All of our hard work is paying off. Liam is doing great. He’s making huge progress and will enjoy the same childhood and schooling as a typical child because he was diagnosed early enough. Not to mention my wife, Robin, and I sacrificed a hell of a lot and worked our asses off to help get him where he is.
There is nothing “politically correct” about the fact that our son is autistic. It’s a real thing that affects how he sees, hears and otherwise senses the world. It’s something that’s always been around, and that we’re only starting to understand.
No, autistic children aren’t brats. No, their parents aren’t lazy. Parent shaming is never cool, especially if you don’t have the first idea of what you’re talking about. Writing off an autistic child, especially one that is part of your family, as “just a brat,” and your sister as a “lazy parent” is crass and pointedly cruel at best.
The callous ignorance of this guy’s statements are astounding. And complaining something is “politically correct” is just code for saying you don’t want to treat others respectfully, anyway. So what I got from this dude was that his nephew is a brat, his sister is a crappy parent, he has no idea what autism is or what it means, and autism is just some big cover-up meant to force him into acting respectfully toward others when he doesn’t want to. Everything about his statements were insulting. He was very lucky I was called away just at that moment.
Because even after taking lots of time to think this through, how to delicately and intelligently put my response to his asinine comments, I’d still go with my first impulse. That would be:
“If you ever say to my face that my son needs a beating to straighten him out, I will apply your own logical fallacy back unto you, and break your damn jaw.”
Just so you know the context in case I ever DO say that.
If you believe your child may be on the autism spectrum, get him or her diagnosed immediately. The earlier you get help, the happier all of your lives will be. Contact the Children’s Developmental Group for more information.