Rain man isnt the only reference point for autism

by | Jun 8, 2023

“But he doesn’t look autistic.” Someone said.  “Oh, he just needs a good smack.”  Said another person.  “Why doesn’t your kid talk?  Is he stupid?”  Said the last person.  I’ve heard a variety of these comments in my time as a parent of an autistic child.  Comments made by completely uneducated, ignorant people.

You see people who make these comments believe the only truth they know to be true.  That if you don’t fit into this particular hole then something must be wrong.  I have seen this time and time again whether it happens in schools, extracurricular activities or even at churches.

The problem here lies with the person making the comments, they’re basing these comments off what a typical child does and doesn’t do and this is where the problem is.  When I look at my angel boy, if I do allow myself to go down the comparison path, I’m comparing him to another autistic child not a typical child.

Mainstream teachers do this far too often – trying to get these neurodivergent children to conform and comply with how a typical child would complete school.  Sit still, don’t fidget, no talking!

Are you comparing apples with apples or apples with oranges?

We, as parents, must also not fall into that trap of comparing our autistic children to typical siblings or typical peers.  This will only end in tears, heartbreak and most certainly overwhelm.

Autistic children have so much to offer this world.  Some are extremely intuitive, some have photographic memories, some are beyond brilliant with mathematics, others are extremely empathetic, and some can recite information at the drop of the hat such as statistics, facts and more.

When I eventually had the courage to tell friends about my angel boys’ diagnosis, they later told me their only reference point with autism was Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.   They had no other evidence to compare to, but as you and I know not all children are like rain main.  So, when you have no evidence to compare to, instantly, your mind will go to the only reference it knows.  This is why education is so, so important.  We as parents can educate our friends and family.  Absolutely share what is difficult for your child, what triggers them, what sets them off, but also share with them their brilliance as well.  Things that your child is really good at.  Shout if from the rooftops if you must, because if there’s one thing I know for certain – these beautiful souls have so much to offer us.

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