The top 12 things to NOT say to a mother of an autistic child and 12 things to absolutely SAY!

by | Jul 13, 2023

What not to say:             Why doesn’t your child talk?
What to say:                    Your child is amazing on the monkey bars.
Rather than focus on what the child can’t do, lets focus on what the child can do.

What not to say:             But he doesn’t even look autistic!
What to say:                    Your son is just gorgeous!
Autism (unless there is a fragile X component) you won’t necessarily see any facial changes to indicate a person has autism.

What not to say:             You look really tired and stressed!
What to say:                    I was at the café and thought I’d grab a coffee for you.
As parents of an autistic child, we are under an immense amount of pressure, not to mention our child may potentially be up during the night or very early in the morning.

What not to say:             I know what you’re going through, my husband’s co workers son has autism. Sounds rough.
What to say:                    I can’t even imagine what you’re going through, if you ever need to talk, vent, cry, scream, I am here for you.
Unless you have a child on the spectrum yourself, one cannot truly understand what a parent goes through.

What not to say:             Are all your kids autistic?
What to say:                    How many kids do you have? 
Don’t assume that all children from the same family have autism.  In most cases it’s not the case.

What not to say:             I saw on the news that there is a special drug you can try that stops (insert here the symptom)
What to say:                    I’ve spoken to another parent with a child on the spectrum, their daughter has seen great results from x, would you like me to connect her with you?
There is a crazy amount of information going around for kids on the spectrum, some of it is true and some of it is false.  Be careful with what you share unless you know a lot of information about it.

What not to say:             Does your child go to normal school?
What to say:                    Where does your child go to school?
This question can be very offensive as it implies that your child who may attend a special needs school isn’t normal.

What not to say:             Why does your child make those weird noises?
What to say:                    There is nothing to say.  The child is simply expressing themselves which we all have a right to do.
If you have a friend who has an autistic child, you can do them a huge favour by educating yourself on the basic traits of autism.

What not to say:             He’s a boy, of course he’ll grow out if of it.  You’ll see he’ll get his words very soon.
What to say:                    You’re doing an amazing job with your child.
People don’t grow out of autism, its who they are, its how their brain is wired.

What not to say:             My cousin’s friend is autistic, nonverbal in the beginning and now he’s a lawyer, your kid will be fine.
What to say:                    Do you find hearing of others success stories to be helpful?  If so, …..
No two autistic people are the same.  They each have their own individual journey.  What works for one may or may not work for another.

What not to say:             We’re all on the spectrum
Nope, we are not all on the spectrum.  This statement is damaging as it is untrue.
What to say:                    Some people are on the autism spectrum and others are typical.

What not to say:             If you’re child has autism does that mean she’s disabled?
What to say:                    What are your child’s strengths?
I don’t look at my child and see that he’s disabled.  He can walk, run skip, etc.  The word disabled can be a loaded word that also can be harmful.


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