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I say this with [tough] love, but this is for keyboard cowboys everywhere who think they know the best way to raise a child. The ones who parent-shame. Who patronize. Make assumptions. People who judge before having any idea what someone’s life is like.
The Social Media Connection
Oh, Facebook. How I love thee for seeing friends, their kids, awesome first baby moments, and endless memes that make me laugh. I also appreciate the support I get from other parents living the special needs lifestyle.
What comes with the territory, however, is knowing more about friends than perhaps you hoped. Moreover, learning about their opinions on politics or other subjects that mom warned you never to talk about.
Armchair Parenting Made Easy
At the forefront are thoughts and opinions about child rearing, and more specifically, assumptions about what other parents are doing wrong. Yep. Keyboard cowboys. Where the saying “Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” seems long forgotten. Friends who ‘light it up’ blue, yellow, green, purple or chartreuse to show their solidarity for the cause du jour, all the while proclaiming ADHD is the result of poor parenting.
Look, I love when friends want to show their support, and I am certain to see lots of them ‘light it up blue’ as we approach World Autism Day. Please understand, however, that changing a Facebook status for a day doesn’t mean you walk the talk. It might make you feel good about yourself, and perhaps it is well meaning (I find most people have good intentions) but what have you done to support acceptance?
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but before you spew one whilst drinking coffee next to your keyboard, think before you
speak type. As a parent of a special needs child, there are a few things I’d love for you to understand.
I can assure you that a good spanking, endless hours running outside or better parenting skills won’t “fix” it. It is a real condition. No one, and I do think I’m accurate in saying no one, wants to put their child on medication. Parents are often pressured into doing so by school districts and teachers. Yes, this happens. Medication is sometimes necessary to allow a child to focus long enough to learn even the most basic of skills. Watching your child’s inability to read because they can’t focus long enough to learn it is heartbreaking. My daughter is very physically active, and I promise, if it were THAT simple to address, I’d have done it years ago. Deciding to medicate is far from the easy way out, or lazy parenting.I won't tell you to stop eating donuts instead of taking medicine for diabetes; Don't tell me that better parenting will cure my child's ADHD. Click To Tweet
Kindly don’t make reference to Rain Man, or tell me how lucky I am because my child must be a math wizard. Pro tip: don’t ask what “kind” of autism someone has; there is no special brand like perfume. It’s a spectrum, and that means my kiddo is as different as the person standing next to her.
Although we are better at diagnosing autism today than when “we were kids,” it doesn’t mean that my kid is a ‘false positive’ for a diagnosis. Yep, she does look normal (So do you, by the way, but it won’t stop you from saying something insensitive).
That meltdown in the grocery store? This is not a reflection of poor parenting. Let me say this again: THIS IS NOT A REFLECTION OF POOR PARENTING. In fact, it’s sensory overload. As a special needs family, we do our best to avoid this but sometimes, it happens, and we deal with it in the best way we know how. (As a side note, staring isn’t caring).
Don’t tell me about stem cell treatments in Mexico. My child is neuro-diverse, and this won’t change. We love her just the way she is. I do love to read peer reviewed research about medical advances, but don’t send me links to every modern-day snake oil salesman who preaches a ‘cure’ for neurodiversity.
Please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t ask me what I think caused her autism, or whether it was vaccines.
Those who Live in Glass Houses
Before you click that ‘post’ button, do a little introspection. For example, would YOUR child sit next to mine in the cafeteria? What would I find posted about people they deem different on their social media accounts? When was the last time you had a cup of coffee with a parent of a child who has special needs? My child may exhibit behavior that’s different from yours, but one thing I can say for certain is that she’s always kind. I call that a parenting win. Before you throw stones, please be sure you’re house isn’t made of glass.