He Must Be Outgrowing It and Other Things Not To Say

One of the challenging parts of high functioning autism is the way its seen and understood by the outside world.

Most of the time the child’s diagnosis is not immediately apparent to the people they encounter. 

You may notice a speech delay, some difficulty with communication and social situations, lack of social comfort, sensory issues, short attention spans, narrow interests, and being prone to tantrums or meltdowns, just to name a few.

Every child on the spectrum is different from the next and should not be compared just because you know another person with autism.

Depending on the child’s comfort level and surroundings you may notice the child’s behavior as one extreme or the other.

If the child is comfortable and untriggered they can appear totally neurotypical to strangers, where on the other hand if the child is overstimulated in a situation you may see some of their behaviors much more intensely than you’ve ever seen before. 

I have had people say “Oh, he’s having a bad day today. He must be tired” or “His speech is really coming in; he must have be outgrowing ‘it’ ”

I don’t think anything is quite as misunderstood as Autism.

Being mindful of the kinds of questions you ask and the way you ask them is a big step in the right direction! So here are some that you should avoid…

What not to say to a parent of a child with High Functioning Autism:

“You would never know by looking at him that he has Autism!”

I think when people say this, they are trying to bring comfort to the parent. Trust me, you’re not!

Having to constantly defend your child’s diagnosis and why the were given it is exhausting.

Autism is a wide range of abilities and disabilities, if you see more of one than the other that’s okay but remember who has spent everyday with the child and knows them best before you say things that can be potentially hurtful.

“He can’t be autistic because…”

There is this image or idea of what people think autism is, and because my son can do certain things or have ‘good days’ I hear all the time how that makes him not autistic.

Autism is a spectrum for a reason and there is no one thing that a child can or can’t do that determines their diagnosis. 

“He will probably grow out of it”

Parents have a hard enough time coming to terms with their child’s diagnosis. I spent almost 2 years analyzing every move my son made and praying he would just outgrow all of it, then we got his diagnosis.

You don’t outgrow autism, it doesn’t go away, there is no cure.

Saying this to a parent is crushing and the fastest way to make them feel that you can’t accept their kiddo the way that they are.

“Just remember, it could be worse”

Let that mama grieve! Let her complain, let her cry, let her feel everything she is feeling without judgement.

It could always be worse but right now this really sucks so feeling as though we shouldn’t be sad, frustrated, or heartbroken isn’t fair.

The best thing you can do is be a shoulder to cry on when the hard days hit, getting a special needs diagnosis for your child comes with a grieving process; grieving the life you thought you’d have, the memories you thought you would make as a family, grieving the first laugh, first steps, first words you expected so long ago.

Let her feel it all and validate her feelings. Special needs parenting is isolating.

“Maybe you just need to get him around other kids more”

When your child struggles in social situations you can’t just call up a mom and ask for a playdate. You are flooded with anxiety about every birthday party or public outing.

This is hard to understand if you’re not a special needs parent but trust me when I tell you, its lonely and isolating.

We can’t just jump in the car and run to the store when were out of diapers or milk.

We can’t just join that Storytime at the library without crippling fear of what meltdown may occur.

Every trip out of the house is strategically planned and prepared for and that in itself is exhausting, so please don’t shame a parent for adjusting their routines to meet their child’s needs.

Just know we are doing the best we can for our kids and the best thing you can do is ask productive questions about autism that show you want to learn and help.

Also, bring wine.. that always helps!

Written by, Nathan’s Mama

My name is Rachel, I am a mom of two amazing boys. One of them was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old and I have found writing to be a great outlet to deal with all the emotions, challenges, and victories that came with his diagnosis. 

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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