Autism Watch: 2007

If You Don’t Have a Special Needs Child…

Posted on: March 7, 2011

….there are things you just don’t say to someone who does. Especially if you’re a close friend.

Today, someone crossed the line — unintentionally, probably, but thoughtless, nonetheless.

“Don’t blame vaccines. My two girls got them and they’re fine!”  Posted to my FB page.

My mental response? Uhm, yep, your two children being fine most definitely means that the thousands of us whose children were affected can move on to another focus. Oh and you’re super fortunate they’re fine, too! Mine isn’t, but thanks for the kind thought, Mrs. PharmaScientist!”

So I couldn’t really say that in response. My real response was probably much kinder than it should have been. I had to remind myself that people who don’t experience things are ignorant of what it’s like for those of us who do, and therefore, they’re likely ignorant in the area of research/information that we’ve had to immerse ourselves for a decade. It’s not their fault, we can’t expect people to understand us if they’ve not been where we are, but I don’t know zip about Angelman’s Syndrome, scleroderma, cerebral palsy, and a whole lot of other real medical issues, and I wouldn’t tell a mom of a child dealing with one of them how she should feel. I wouldn’t begin to think I knew more than her, or not even enough to comment on it. Even if she made some outrageous comment, like “Don’t breathe air, it’ll cause xx..” I wouldn’t respond in any way unless it was supportive, because I’m not in her shoes. I didn’t spend years having to live around that ailment, I haven’t researched on how to give my child a better life, how to prevent further problems, or how to possibly prevent my grandchildren from being affected, and I don’t know the passion she feels about what she sees as to the cause of the illness. So why would someone do it to anyone? I can’t be the anomaly here — or as someone else put it, as the parent of a special needs child told me, people ignorant of the topic shouldn’t begin to tell those of us who aren’t ignorant of it how to feel, but they’re ignorant of that fact in the first place?

Over the years, I’ve learned that we can’t worry about convincing everyone to believe our feelings; it’s futile and will cause stress. People are entitled to their opinions.  However, we can expect people to respect our thoughts. Random strangers, eh, not so much, but someone who is/was close to you, yes, there should be an expectation of support there…or an expectation that they will quietly agree to disagree instead of being inflammatory.

Off to calm BB, he had a flip-out when I told him I wasn’t going to allow him to pay a child at school for being a friend.

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