I didn’t expect to be asked this question as often as I have been.

It’s a tricky one to even ask. After all, autism really does affect children in extremely serious ways. And parents are often swamped by ignorant people accusing them of labelling their children to excuse their bad behaviour (which is a disgusting accusation to make, by the way). The words “autism” and “excuse” look so, so ugly together that I was reluctant even to write this article.

But it’s been a frequently asked question on Autistic Not Weird’s Facebook page (all links open in new windows), so here are my answers.


A few disclaimers first:

  • Yes, I am entirely aware that autism has a severe impact on thousands and thousands of children, and that their struggles are very real. As someone who personally has Asperger Syndrome, and delivers frequent talks about growing up with the condition, and is a former primary school teacher, who’s also worked with both the ‘mild’ and ‘severe’ sides of special education, I’d have to be an idiot not to know this.
  • No, I do not believe that parents ever get autism diagnoses as an excuse to justify their own laziness. In fact, I suspect you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who believes this whilst knowing anything about autism in general.
  • You know your kids, and I don’t. Adapt the advice in this article in whatever way you see fit, in order to meet your own child’s needs accurately.
  • Finally, if you rant in the comments about how dreadful I am to assume autism is ‘just an excuse’, I’ll correctly assume you didn’t bother to read beyond the title of this article.


This article is written for the kind of people who have asked me these kinds of questions:

My 6 nearly 7yo son with HF ASD and ADHD knows about his ‘conditions’. However lately he uses them as an excuse to him doing things I’ve asked him not to. Eg. We are at the beach and he went in water after I told him numerous times not to as its cold. And he told me ‘it’s just my autism’. What should we do? He can’t really use his conditions for excuses.


Son is 9, in 3rd grade (USA). Dad worries that diagnosis would be used as an excuse to not do things, etc. His sister did this ALL the time.

Or, slightly more complex:

My lad (who’s 9, year 5) is aspie and I’ve noticed recently that when he meets someone new he very quickly mentions that he is aspie and dyspraxic. That’s fine by me except that he says it apparently in response to feeling like he’s doing or saying something ‘weird’ (which can be just having trouble word finding). I’ve tried hard to impress on him that being aspie is never an excuse for bad behaviours and I’m lucky in that he’s a good lad. But I’m unsure whether he needs any reassurance or what I should say about this tendency of his to explain away quirks (since most people have quirks!). Is it a good strategy he’s created or not?


It’s a subject that may open a can of worms, but when you think about it there’s no point in making a can of anything unless you’re going to open it sooner or later. So here we go.

Yes, in this case "can of worms" is not literal. Also, I figured less of us would be freaked out if I used a picture of jelly worms. Now I'm hungry.

Yes, in this case “can of worms” is not literal.
Also, I figured less of us would be freaked out if I used a picture of jelly worms. Now I’m hungry.


First things first, kids will be kids.

By their very nature, children push boundaries. They try to get away with things. They push their luck as far as they can get away with. And that’s not because they’re brats (you may have gathered that I have a pretty high opinion of children in general). It’s because it’s built into their instincts.

Think about it: without the desire to test their boundaries and see how far they can stretch their behaviour, humans would not have advanced the way they have done. Pushing our natural boundaries has allowed us to climb mountains, navigate oceans and walk on the moon. This natural drive to stretch ourselves is built in right from the start of our lives. It’s how we advance as a species.

Of course, the side effect is that children push their luck from a very early age. That’s why it’s important to set clear and consistent boundaries for young people at the same time as giving positive encouragement: to allow them to be their natural explorative selves, whilst making sure their behaviour doesn’t become a pitfall for them on the way.


So, is it ‘normal’ for autistic children to use their autism as an excuse? Well, children with two parents often say “Mummy said I could” to Daddy, or vice versa. Children at the far end of the garden often pretend they can’t hear you shouting “come inside”. Plenty of children start acting hyper after a fizzy drink because “I’ve had too much sugar!!”

And yes- children on the autism spectrum are no different. Offer them an excuse and they’ll kindly take it.


And for the record- if I’d found out about my Asperger’s when I was eight, I would definitely have used it as an excuse. For a while at least.

Then my parents would have enforced their expectations, and given me a stern talk about me making the right choices. Then I would have stopped.

Even though I was blatantly cute enough to get away with excuses.

Even though I was blatantly cute enough to get away with excuses.

None of this makes it ok for autism to be used as a get-out clause, obviously. But it does explain the motivation for children who do. Because that’s what people in general do- autistic or not, children or not!


The difference between a ‘reason’ and an ‘excuse’

I saw my first face-to-face example of autism being used as an excuse when I worked in a special school. A 17-year-old student (and quite a capable one) was finding something difficult in a maths lesson and knew it would take some effort to solve. When we encouraged her to knuckle down and give it her best, she casually said “nah, I can’t, I have autism”.

Now, if she had genuinely been struggling, that would have been different. If she were feeling anxious, that would absolutely have been different. But she said it in such a calm, dismissive tone that she was obviously trying to play a ‘get out of work free’ card.


To make it worse, she said it in a roomful of students who genuinely did struggle with maths because of their autism.


And those other students are the reason why it’s so important that autism isn’t casually waved around as an excuse. It trivialises the problem, and it’s unfair to those who can legitimately say that their autism makes them struggle. Those for whom autism is a reason, not an excuse.


The other part, of course, is the damage it does to the person saying it.

I knew a teenager from my youth club who was diagnosed with dyslexia, but it did not seem to affect his reading ability in any noticeable way. However, from the moment he got the diagnosis, whenever we asked him to do a Bible reading he would grin and say “no, it’s ok, I’m dyslexic.”

It was immediately clear that his attitude was a far bigger obstacle than his dyslexia had ever been.


Because that’s the danger with ‘get out of work free’ cards. If you’re unlucky, you might actually get out of doing the work.


Even as a teacher, this has always been a favourite of mine.

Even as a teacher, this has always been a favourite of mine.


So, when is autism a reason and when is it an excuse?

Well, you’ll know how to recognise it in your child far better than me. But here are a few pointers.

(If you disagree with some of these, that’s fine. They may not apply personally to your child. Your own examples may also match up with some of the mitigating bullet-points in the next section. But these points apply in a general sense.)


If a child hears what you say, ignores it and chooses to behave badly (especially if they were obviously in control of their choices at that moment), then says it was their autism acting up, they are usually using autism as an excuse.

If a child hears what you say but their impulses take over (and especially if they feel guilty after the event), their autism is a genuine reason.


If a child refuses to work in school because they don’t feel motivated, even when a teacher reminds them that completing work is an expectation of the whole class, and then raises their autism as a reason for not wanting to do the work, they are often using autism as an excuse. (See the example I gave above.)

If a child refuses to work in school because they are struggling with the environment, or they feel unable to engage with the work, and whole-class expectations have a history of not being accessible to them, their autism is a genuine reason.


Finally, if a child hits another child because they’re physically overwhelmed, or they don’t have the coping strategies to deal with the situation in a socially acceptable way, their autism is a genuine reason.

If a child hits another child simply because they’re annoyed with them, then says it was their autism, they are usually using autism as an excuse- although the real factors of this incident need serious attention.


After establishing whether autism is the excuse or the reason in each case (but bearing in mind it may be a bit of both!), the next question is how to deal with it.

If you are certain that their autism is playing the role of ‘excuse’, then it’s usually better to enforce the same disciplinary guidelines you usually would. If the consistency is there, the child will hopefully realise that reaching for excuses will not change the outcome of their actions.

That, and have a chat with them about choices- which I’ll discuss in a bit.


But if their autism is a genuine reason for struggling, approach the situation with compassion and allow yourself to be flexible. Yes, you want them to know that using autism as an excuse is unacceptable, but you never want them to avoid coming to you with genuine problems.


Anyway- parents and teachers are usually pretty clued up on when children are making excuses and when they’re genuinely struggling. But how do you make the children understand the difference?


Before my answer, a few things to bear in mind:

  • Before reacting to a sentence that sounds like an excuse, the first thing to judge is how uncomfortable they feel with the situation at hand. Judge your reaction accordingly, because their feelings may be a factor in how well they express their reasons.
  • For some children (or people in general who struggle with communication), referencing their autism may be a way of expressing how difficult they’re finding something. If, to them, ‘autism’ is synonymous with ‘struggling’, they may get the two mixed up.
  • Sometimes they may not realise they are coming across as making excuses! In some cases they may honestly think that their autism is causing their actions. In those cases, give guidance rather than rebukes.
  • Occasionally, if they are referencing their autism to other people, they may even be trying to teach the other person about their autism. Be particularly sensitive in reacting to that- as complicated as it is to strike a balance between raising awareness and communicating with others ‘appropriately’.


Ok, so that’s several of the exceptions covered.

But what if none of the above cases apply, and the child is clearly and blatantly playing the autism card to get away with substandard behaviour?


Some things we don’t get to choose. Other things, we do.

In primary teaching, there is a lot of emphasis on making young people aware of their choices. For example “you threw Tommy out of the window and that was bad” doesn’t always make them think in the right direction, whereas “you chose to throw Tommy out of the window, and that was the wrong decision to make” is more likely to make them think about their own role in making it happen.

(Of course, I may have said a stronger set of words if a child actually got defenestrated in my class, but you get my point.)

(And wow, did I really just find an opportunity to use ‘defenestrated’ in an article?)


With the above in mind, this is what I’d say to a child using their autism an excuse.


There are some things in life we don’t get to choose. Being autistic is one of them.

There are other things in life we do get to choose. Because we’re humans, and part of being human is making our own choices.

It’s important to understand the difference between the two. Don’t feel too bad about the things that are beyond your control, but don’t refuse responsibility for the things you can control.


We may not get to choose whether or not we’re on the autism spectrum, and some of us don’t always get to control our impulses (or need a lot of help to overcome them). But the moment we are able to call the shots, we get to decide who we are.


Everyone, autistic or not, has to take responsibility for their choices. It’s part of growing up to be the best person you can be.

Clichéd, but absolutely true. Clichés are clichés for a reason.

Clichéd, but absolutely true. Clichés are clichés for a reason.

I’d explain this using very specific examples, of course.

With the student I’d say “you don’t get to choose whether you find maths tricky, but you do get to choose whether you work hard at it.”

With the dyslexic lad I’d say “you don’t get to choose whether you struggle with reading, but you do get to choose how much you challenge yourself.

With the fictional kid I’d say “you don’t get to choose the stress levels of your environment, but you do get to choose whether to throw Tommy out the window.”


Make them understand what they can choose and what they can’t. The rest will follow easier after that. For some it may solve the problem straight away, and for others it at least teaches them an important life lesson and offers them a springboard for further learning.



Being honest, this was one of the trickier articles to write. Because very often there’s no clear-cut way to recognise a young person’s motivations for referencing their autism. Sometimes it’ll be for genuine reasons (even if only in their own mind), and sometimes it may be a sign of struggling to express themselves. And I make no claim to be able to recognise the difference in any child I don’t know personally.


But if you want a nice and easy bullet-point list of guidance tips, here it is.

  • Like I said at the start, you know your kids and I don’t. Adapt the advice in this article in whatever way you see fit, in order to meet your own child’s needs accurately.
  • All kids make excuses. Adults do too. Those on the autism spectrum are not immune to this.
  • Before you do anything else, check how un/comfortable the child is when referencing their autism, and react appropriately.
  • Try to work out their motivation for referencing their autism. It may not be what you think.
  • Choices are everything. And even those who struggle with self-control will have opportunities to make choices for themselves. Guide the young person to distinguish between what they do choose and what they don’t. Help them to make the right choices, and the rest will follow.


All the best to you and your kids,

Chris Bonnello / Captain Quirk


Are you tired of characters with special needs being tokenised and based on stereotypes, or being the victims rather than the heroes? This novel series may interest you!

Underdogs, a near-future dystopia series where the heroes are teenagers with special needs, is a character-driven war story which pitches twelve people against an army of millions, balancing intense action with a deeply developed neurodiverse cast.

Book one can be found here:

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Chris Bonnello is a national and international autism speaker, available to lead talks and training sessions from the perspective of an autistic former teacher. For further information please click here (opens in new window).
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Copyright © Chris Bonnello 2015-2020  


Picture credits:

Main photo: http://blog.neurogistics.com/index.php/bullying-brain/

Can of worms: minnlawyer.com


And the incredible Bill Watterson, of course.

About The Author

28 Responses

  1. Pieter Dykhuis (14 with Aspergers)

    Is having trouble with writing an excuse or a reason?

    • CaptainQuirk

      If it’s a real struggle, then it is absolutely a reason. 🙂 So you shouldn’t have to be afraid of asking for help with it.

  2. Kathy Haras

    Great article. i particularly like the part about “it’s my autism” being a way to describe “I am struggling”. Because it’s often hard to describe that things are going off track in a way that people will a) understand and b) intervene in a way that is genuinely helpful. Because I can often tell you that I am struggling when I can’t can’t begin to tell you what I am struggling with. And by the time I can tell you what I am struggling with, it has become a disaster.

    One thing I would add — sometimes adults (whether you are a child with autism or an adult) would like autism to be an excuse rather than a reason. Because then they don’t need to do anything. And it then becomes all “your fault”.

  3. Janet Squires Calder

    Our son, 11 yrs old is SPD, ASD, ADHD and siezure disorder. We NEVER use as an excuse and do NOT allow him either. His handicaps are only used to explain why he does things or to help guide adults to explain things another way till he understands. We also have explained that EVERYONE is different and some are better at this or that. We NEVER use DISABLED because he isn’t he just has a few handicaps that others need to be awhere of.

  4. Full Spectrum Mama

    reasons vs excuses = brilliant.
    In our family we also struggle with a near family member who has been abusive in the past. i teach my children that some things may be understood or explained yet not JUSTIFIED.
    love your more useful and positive use of a similar concept…

  5. Taryn East

    Great article. I’d also add that “growth mindset” is important to teach to the child – who might, eg, be viewing their diagnosis as an indelible mark of unchanging inability. For example – the dyslexic child might not realise that regular practicing their reading will mean they get better at it, and therefore they self-identify as somebody that cannot now (or ever) read…. whereas you can help them reframe their own abilities by saying something like: “you are dyslexic which means you struggle with reading more than others, but if you practice, you can actually improve and it will come easier in time”

  6. Sean Murphy

    This is an interesting article for me; I’m somewhere in the middle of the autism spectrum, and I’ve always struggled with the line between autism as a reason, and autism as an excuse. For example, I’m really struggling in school this year. School’s never been easy for me, but this is the first year that I’m having to face the possibility of failing some of my classes. It’s not that I don’t understand the material, necessarily, but I’m really bad at getting the homework done, and I’m personally having trouble discerning how much of it is autism, and how much of it is my own character flaws. When I play video games instead of getting work done, is that because of the poor impulse control of autism, or am I just procrastinating? When I sit and stare at a math problem set for an hour without writing anything, is that anxiety, or just stubbornness? (Actually, to be fair, a lot of people who are nowhere near the autism spectrum get math anxiety, so that might be a separate issue.) When I don’t get the help from a teacher that I know I need, is that the fault of my autism, for making me neurotic about social situations, or is it my fault for not just sucking it up and talking to them anyway? I try my hardest to avoid using autism as an excuse, because I have used it as an excuse in the past, but I’m worried that I’ve overcompensated, and I’m just beating myself up over things that I can’t control. It’s interesting reading this article from the perspective of someone currently growing up with autism, because, if my life were a book, this would be my main internal conflict. (And yes, I think of everything that happens in my life in terms of “if it were a book”.)

    • CaptainQuirk

      I like that- thinking “if it were a book” for life events. 😀
      A very honest reply- thank you. It reminds me of advice my dad gave when we had our first autism conversation. He said:

      “Asperger’s or not, the principles of self-improvement are the same. It’s all a matter of learning from experience and taking the lessons from anything you don’t get right.”

      That stuck with me. 🙂 Maybe some of my flaws are autism-related, maybe they’re personality traits. But either way, I’m capable of learning lessons and improving myself! 😉

    • Mennolt van Alten

      Your situation seems familiar. Maybe because this year I experienced 2 out of 3 of these issues. IDK if it is related to my Aspergers, but I never finish my homework, although with a lot of subjects that still gets me a passing grade at least. I also have a huge fear of asking for help, even more so with teachers I don’t like. There is also a correlation with me liking teachers and me being good in a subject, making this even worse. Due to the fact that most of the things I have to do in school aren’t that hard for me, I don’t have to face it at the moment, but I’m pretty afraid of the moment I will need to.

  7. lisa

    we have a 12 year old son on the spectrum with high functioning autism, and a 14 year old daughter, she is the one that uses our sons autism as an excuse ie: he gets away with everything, you favor him etc.
    I’d love some advise on how to handle this, I know he gets more attention arghhhh!
    thanks for the great article by the way!

    • CaptainQuirk

      Hi Lisa- sorry, I’ve only just seen this comment! If you want I can share to Autistic Not Weird’s Facebook page so that other parents can offer opinions/experiences?

  8. Hi

    I came across this being dyslexic and heard other people say this too. I really annoys me as whilst it is a reason an excuse only works in the short term. Long term you only want to be as good at things as you can and no one that needs someones assistance will put up with an excuse for long from those being asked or paid to help.
    And all kids try excuses from I have a headache sore finger or my dog ate my homework. This is not any different for aspie pple. It’s another way of saying and expecting them to be bad and this pressure is not put on ordinary kids. Please add it to your list of things not to say. Much better just ignore and ask them to try, support them and explain why the task is important and motivate them to do it with a reward real or future driven betterment.

    • Rachel Samuels

      I never use autism as an excuse for anything, except maybe stimming. I do have embarrassing honesty incidents sometimes. When that happens, I apologize for it, and call it an Aspie moment, which works as a way to defuse the situation with humor. Maybe the fact that I 18 when I was diagnosed has something to do with that.

  9. Concerned Family Member

    If anyone has some advise for me it would be appreciated. It is a similar situation but slightly different. Someone I am close to has a child that was very high functioning, and recently actually taken off the spectrum. The mom is a very doting parent, with a beautiful daughter(who I love dear). To be honest many family members are aware that her daughter sometimes used it as an excuse ( “I can’t clean up after myself, I have autism”, “I can’t walk in the store, I need a cart because I have autism and it will hurt my feet”) but it is her child and a very touchy subject so little can be said without her mother getting angry. In the last couple years it has become what I consider harmful to her daughters health and quality of life. The dr told her she needs to be put on a diet because she is severely over weigh ( I know weight can be more of a struggle with autism) but just to give a better idea of what I see as the real issue; the other day they came over for 3 hours and she brought a bag of food. In the 3 hour span her daughter ate 3 bags of chips, a pepperoni burrito and a bag of salad and 2 boxes of candy(this is a regular occurrence). This was in 3 hours. She is only 7 but weighs over 150 lbs and I am scared for her health. During the same visit I asked her daughter to pick up her toys and she said “no thank you, I don’t want to pick up my toys, the other kids can do it for me” and when I said in my house everyone has to clean their own mess she threw herself on the floor and screamed I don’t want to until her mother said “It’s ok you don’t have to” and her daughter got up like nothing had happened and ran off to play. The daughter is deeply confused about reality outside of her home by this point because any other child who doesn’t play what she wants or do as she says are bullies in her eyes, and the poor little girl is devastated and sad when other kids eventually avoid her. Recently her mom decided that since the school, teachers and various dr’s (she got several 2nd opinions due to feeling the drs were wrong) felt her daughter is doing well enough for a regular class. Her daughter said she doesn’t want to go, so now she feels it is best for her daughter if she pulls her out of school and let’s her take a break until next year as to not let her be to overwhelmed. All I said was “maybe another school would work better for her so she can keep up all the progress she made” and her mom freaked out she started screaming “I am not worried about her future career or keeping her in a regular class or any of that money grubby sh## you put your child through. I am worried about how upset going to school is making her and her quality of life now. She is autistic ok.” She was so angry that I just said “well you know best, I was just saying if that was something that had you stressed.” (I was gonna mention I thought it may be illegal but her initial reaction kind of scared me so I didn’t) And more and more her daughter crys about her weight and not having friends. I don’t think her daughter gets why she is over weight or why other kids avoid her, not because of the autism but because of her mom’s parenting and what she has been taught is ok. I feel her daughter behaves for me very very well when I babysit but if her mom is there then she will not behave at all, and her grandma (mom’s mother) said the same. I am kind of at the point I feel that as much as I love them both when she comes with her mom then my child is treated in a way that isn’t emotionally healthy and my house rules are not respected(she refuses to make her daughter clean up but on top of that she doesn’t always clean her daughter’s mess up either anymore even if I say that it is important to me the mess is cleaned she will say something like”My daughter has autism and it is draining to me, my life is exhausting and you have no idea. I’ll clean it in a little bit” but then doesn’t clean it.) I just don’t feel I can continue to interact with them it is so bad, which makes me feel horrible. Is there any other way to go about this situation? I am concerned the little girl may hurt herself eventually because she has said things like “Nobody likes me. I am fat and ugly and I should just die” (first night I noticed this was a night I woke up while spending the night and realized she was sobbing in her room in the middle of the night but the mom said this is a normal occurrence but doesn’t seem to think anything can be done about it.) Please if you have some suggestions it would really be appreciated.

    • CaptainQuirk

      Hi, thanks for the comment and sorry to hear you’re in such a tricky situation.

      The problem comes when so much is a matter of choice. One painful lesson I’ve learned is that you can provide all the guidance and advice to the best of your ability, but what you can’t do is force people to make the right choices. This girl’s mother will have to decide by herself to make decisions that are in the best interests of her daughter. What kind of professional help is she getting? It does sound like an extra level of support and insight may be needed, if she’s willing to dismiss the advice of those who know her in her personal life.

      I’d do your best to take care of yourself as well- know what you can do and what you can’t do, and don’t feel guilty if you offer your friend lots of support and it has no impact on her choices.

      Take care, all the best to all of you,

  10. Cassie

    “I knew a teenager from my youth club who was diagnosed with dyslexia, but it did not seem to affect his reading ability in any noticeable way. However, from the moment he got the diagnosis, whenever we asked him to do a Bible reading he would grin and say “no, it’s ok, I’m dyslexic.” ”

    All I can think in that situation is that the student wasn’t trying to get out of reading, he was trying to get out of reading the Bible.

    I was an atheist teenager in a Christian youth group (my friends went and there were fun activities) and, I have to admit, I would have done the exact same thing to get out of that situation. If only because it’s less likely to lead to an argument or being talked at than “I don’t want to read the Bible because X”.

  11. Polly

    I have Autism myself. I have had quite a number of interactions with other individuals with Autism who have varying strengths and weaknesses. Intellectual disability and no intellectual disability. There is a small bunch of individuals who do seem to remind you of their Autism diagnosis every second sentence, almost as an excuse. I do this and that..because I have Autism. I think this and that way… because I have Autism…I don’t do this and that…because I have Autism. It is very tiresome listening to someone who constantly refers to their autism like a shield/bandage.

  12. Regretful resentful sister

    I’m not sure if you are still answering comments/questions on this blog, but I’ll give it a shot. My situation is a bit different from the stories you provided, or the other comments I’ve read. My older sister has mild Aspergers, was diagnosed around middle school, and was later moved into homeschooling. Before she had been diagnosed, my parents had already figured out that she gets distracted easily and had little to no filter, among other things. My parents are both loving and expected discipline. And after a while, my parents had asked me to keep an eye on her when they couldn’t: a decision they came to deeply regret. This became a whole issue on multiple fronts. I started to police my older sister and nah at her in what I saw as keeping her safe and in line. She would come to deeply resent this, and in turn me, for it. With my new “police” role, I determined that I would have to step up and be better sibling. I felt embarrassed by her and her short comings, and that I had to be good enough to compensate for both of us. This would create a rift between us, me always holding her in check, and trying to surpass her in every way, and her lashing out at me and deciding to stop trying at all. She felt/feels put down and worthless, and I felt/feel stressed, neglected, and like I NEED TO BE PERFECT to compensate. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this, and stop putting her down, but but both of us are still deeply affected by this in our 20’s.

    I gave all this backstory so you might understand how I perceive this. Now that she is an adult, and has a job and is making a life for her own, I’ve noticed she has started to excuse her strange or frustrating behavior as her Asperger “quirks”. If she gets upset at little things, and blows up about it, but doesn’t apologize afterwards, just cause she’s quirky. Doesn’t want any form of change, quirky. Isn’t good with words, but hates being corrected by anyone, it’s just a quirk. Can’t deal with time well, yet refuses to try or set alarms for stuff, “you know I’m quirky”. It normally wouldn’t be a problem, if it wasn’t her go to. It just looks like she’s making excuses so as to not try. Is this just me nitpicking at her? Or is this residual feelings of “I can’t do it, so why try?” Either way I feel guilty about it, but can’t help resenting her flippant attitude over it. I haven’t gone into this with her, lest I come across as “policing” her again. But I know this is holding her back, she has gotten multiple warnings at work for being late, and I know she is going to have a conversation with someone in which they don’t understand what she is saying, because she uses words incorrectly.

    I hate this. I hate that I was so strict and put her down with my actions. But now that I’m actively trying to change, and be better, that version of me is all she seems to see. If I make any small recommendation, or do something better than her (without trying to, mind you), then I face her anger and/or tears. I hate her Aspergers, and the feelings of being inadequate it gave us both. And sometimes, I almost hate my sister. I would wonder, “what if she didn’t have Aspergers, or if I didn’t have a sister. Where would I be today.” This has lead me to practically detesting those with Aspergers or Autism, because in my mind I associate it with my sister.

    I’m so tired of this. I don’t want to hate my sister. We can sometimes make the perfect team, and I wish it would last. I don’t want to look down on her for something she can’t control. But I know she CAN control what she does with it to react and cope. And it just seems like she thinks she doesn’t have control over her reactions, and like everyone else has to cope with her.

    Please, I need help. What do I do? Should I do anything, or stop trying to interfere, lest I make things worse? Should I bring this up with my parents, or will they also see it as me being too judgmental? In the end, I love my sister, and want her to succeed, but she doesn’t seem to want any of the help or critiques necessary for anyone to succeed, especially not from me.

    • CaptainQuirk

      Hi, sorry to hear about all this (and apologies for the delayed reply- I’ve been drowning in messages lately but have now reached yours!).
      It goes without saying that your parents evidently gave you responsibilities that you weren’t ready to handle at that time (and perhaps without specific guidance that would have been helpful too), and it’s a huge shame that that’s come to colour your relationship with your sister even during adulthood.

      Obviously not knowing your sister I’m in no position to offer conclusive judgements- she might be using her quirkiness as an excuse, or she could be using it to mask some valid struggles. If she doesn’t feel comfortable saying “this is an autism-related struggle”, or feels like people (including the public in general) may look down on her for it, the natural thing to do may be to look for something else to fill the gap that an autism explanation could take. If she’s getting repeated warnings at work, it’s unlikely that she sees it as “quirkiness” rather than a real problem.

      I don’t know what you can do to redefine your sisterly relationship with her, but it does sound like it needs redefining. Is there something you can do together (hobby, event, whatever) where neither of you has responsibility over the other, and where neither of you feels accountable?

      Either way, I would certainly hope that your sister gets some kind out outlet where she can describe/explain how her autism really does impact her, without the mask on. This could take the form of therapy, or a local support group (or an online one). If you were to suggest these, obviously you would need to consider how best to do so without being assumed to be “policing” her. There may even be another person (including either of your parents) who she may be more receptive to. But one way or another, having an opportunity to unmask and reveal to someone why you’re struggling can be absolutely priceless.

      I hope this helps (even if just a bit), and all the best to both of you,


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