Every good parent approaches their child from a position of love and acceptance. And among parents, there are many similarities that we can all appreciate and laugh about over coffee.
But here are 22 things only a parent of an autistic child can appreciate. And there better be a lot more coffee.
- Your school information binder is like a Russian nesting doll of accordion binders stuffed inside other accordion binders. They’re all full.
- The only time your kids want to use the bathroom voluntarily is when you're in it.
- “You may not lie on top of the dog” is a thing you must tell your children before visiting friends.
- You devise a strategic plan (escape routes, backup plan, support troops, and supplies) for a trip to the grocery store.
- You can’t keep them from drinking the bathwater, and you can’t get them to drink their milk.
- Attorneys have you on speed dial as a special education law expert.
- Friends’ visits to your home are met with FCC-style content warnings for partial nudity and profanity.
- The thought, “The next person who suggests a sticker chart will be forced to eat said sticker chart” has occurred to you more than once.
- You purchase a battery backup, surge protection, and automatic inline generator so that the Wi-Fi will never, ever go down.
- Your grocery list is mostly just a rotating list of optional items that supplement the five essentials: coffee, wine, bacon, chicken nuggets, and french fries.
- The answer to 25 consecutive questions is unbelievably the same each time. Because the question is the exact same question 25 times in a row.
- You learn new and complicated directions to otherwise convenient stores for the sole purpose of avoiding being in sight of a McDonald’s.
- The school’s report that your child said, “f*ck that noise” in class gets put on the refrigerator because they used it appropriately.
- The only way to make your kid feel comfortable when you are driving is to make left turns only.
- You don't ever have to set your alarm clock because 4:30 a.m. is wakeup time. Every day. For the rest of your life.
- You’ve heard of sleep from stories your friends have shared, but you suspect they’re making it up.
- During a given 180-day school year, you pack the same lunch all 180 days.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches not cut in perfect 45-degree angles are “broken” and must be remade, because anything imperfect is not OK.
- You live in fear of the day you can’t fit them in their favorite shopping cart racecar.
- You avoid autism politics talk at all costs because you know you need to save all your energy for your kids’ needs.
- Regardless of the time of day, two-step instructions invariably start with, “First we put on our pants…”
- No one else will ever understand how awesome your kid really is.
A note from the author
There is a debate in many disability communities over the proper way to refer to members of that community. It’s called the “person-first/identity-first” argument. In the autism community in particular, some people say that referring to a member as “autistic” is right, while other people say that referring to a member as “person with autism” is right.
For the purposes of this article, I used the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) preferred usage, which is autistic. My personal take on the issue applies the following hierarchy to my decision:
- how my daughter wishes to be identified
- how people and groups, like the ASAN, prefer my daughter be identified
- my own opinion
- the opinions of other caregivers of people like my daughter
Ultimately, it’s my belief that there is no “correct” usage if the rationale for choosing it is well-considered, researched, and comes from a place of love and respect. And I hope you’re not offended by my use of “autistic” in the article. It comes from a place of love and respect for my daughter and for people like my daughter. It’s well-considered, well-researched, and supported by the ASAN.