Yep, uncomfortable title. But sadly, these are subjects that I feel we have a responsibility to talk about.


Today, I’m going to share some habits that I’ve seen in a wide variety of contexts: some of them in my career in education (mainstream and special), some of them from people dealing with me as a man with Asperger Syndrome, some of them I’ve seen in the form of internet comments, and so on. Although often done unknowingly- hence the article title- these habits have the potential to do harm.

This is a tricky subject, I know, but these are five mistakes that need discussing. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make them.


Rather importantly, this is not specifically a guide for parents. (Not being a parent myself, I don’t claim to have any insight specific to parenting.) It is a guide for anyone who has any contact with a young and/or vulnerable autistic person, whether they are parents, teachers, teaching assistants, family friends, and so on.

(Oh- and since I wrote this article, it’s became by far the most read on Autistic Not Weird. So if you’re reading this for the first time, feel free to join our community on Facebook!) [All links open in new windows.]


Five ways to damage an autistic child without even knowing:

Ok, deep breath.

1) Talk about them like they’re not in the room.

It really is surprising how many people I’ve seen doing this. The assumption is made, often without the speaker realising, that since the autistic person is looking away in silence, they must not be listening.

Which, of course, is quite a harsh assumption to make about people who simply communicate differently. Partly because it would be disrespectful to talk about any non-autistic person as if they weren’t in the room (and therefore, why on Earth would it be different for autistic people?), and partly because of the things that can end up being said if you think they’re not listening.


I’ll let this badly-drawn picture do the talking.

For the record, people do this with babies and very young children too. I would say the same applies. Even if they’re not talking to you, always make the assumption that they’re listening.

For the record, people do this with babies and very young children too. I would say the same applies. Even if they’re not talking to you, always make the assumption that they’re listening.

When I worked in special education, on principle I always talked to the nonverbal students. I never expected any kind of communication in response, because that wasn’t the point. The point was to give them the experience of social communication.


For example, one lunchtime I was sat outside with a twelve-year-old lad who I’m going to pretend was called James. I was talking to him, mainly about how much the weather sucked (being an Aspie I’d much rather talk about dinosaurs or Sonic the Hedgehog than endure small talk, but I’m British so the weather is our typical go-to conversation.). I was also quite sad that day for reasons I won’t go into, but I carried on talking to him despite not being in a talking mood. After all, his needs took priority over mine.

As I talked, he said nothing, did not look at me, and gave me no indication that he was listening. Nonetheless, at one point I simply said,

“I like you, James. You’re a nice lad.”

I didn’t expect him to go from staring-into-space mode to suddenly looking me straight in the eyes, grabbing my shoulder and laughing really really loud, but that’s what he did. Because guess what? He was listening!


Everyone communicates, some just in their own way. And listening is part of communication too.


2) Assume that most of their identity is down to autism rather than personality choices.

The phrase “yeah, that’s his autism” is one I have heard far too many times. Even in professional circles.

Yes, our autism influences us. Yes, it often gives us particular habits or interests unique to us. But to say it’s “just his/her autism” is implying that we don’t get any say in the matter.


I remember when I was running a chess tournament in a special school (it was amazing- the students got more from that one tournament than in any of the sixteen I’d run in mainstream). One crucial match was scheduled for a day when the school was doing a special event. Throughout the day there was only one opportunity for this game to be played… and ten minutes before the start, one of the students got a migraine and had to go home.

This stressed me out because I was relying on that match’s result so I could drive straight to the trophy centre after work and have the prizes engraved (and therefore get them handed out before the end of term). And I’m fairly transparent, so people could tell I was bothered by something.

When I told one of my colleagues I was feeling stressed, she immediately asked me “oh dear- is it because today’s been a break from routine?”

No, it wasn’t. (And speaking as a former primary school teacher, you should only be in the classroom if you can adapt reasonably well to unexpected change.)

Some other examples:

  • I’m good at maths because I put the effort into learning. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I dislike small talk because there are more useful, funny, important or heartfelt things to talk about. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I’m honest with people because it’s the right way to be. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I love chess because… well, there’s a whole article about it here. It’s not “just my autism”.
  • I run a sizeable Facebook community because I’m driven to guide others who are affected by the issue. And there are a hundred parts of my personality that drive me to do that- not just my autism.
  • And you know what, even my anxiety isn’t autism-related. It was done to me.


That said, there is a balance. Like I said, autism does have an impact on us. I used to watch Independence Day on video over and over and over and over again when I was twelve, and you could validly say that this habit was influenced by my Asperger’s. But the main reason it happened was because Independence Day was an awesome movie! (At least, to me at twelve it was.)

Moral of the story? Regardless of how strongly autism influences the child in question, don’t forget that they have a personality too.


3) Assume their perspectives are skewed and unreliable.

This is Morgan. Brilliant lad, and I promise I’m not just saying that because his brain’s so similar to mine. You may know him from the Facebook page Planet Morgan Aspie Superhero.

And yes, I got Morgan's permission personally for sharing this. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Disclaimer: I showed this section to Morgan whilst seeking his permission to publish it, and I asked him for no-holds-barred honest feedback about what he was comfortable with me writing. His only demand was that I change the picture at the bottom to something cooler.

Morgan’s Asperger Syndrome is, in my opinion, not a significant problem for him. In fact (although I may be biased here), I think his Asperger’s actually just makes him awesome.

Sadly, it’s his severe anxiety that presents him with his biggest challenge. He no longer attends school because the word alone makes him afraid. And, in a story all too familiar to parents of autistic children, the source of this anxiety was a devastating amount of bullying throughout life at one of his previous schools.

Unfortunately, this bullying was allegedly not addressed effectively. (And yes, I used the word “allegedly”. This is no indication of my personal beliefs, but simply mindful of the fact that- having a website as well-read as Autistic Not Weird- I have a duty to write responsibly.)

According to those closest to him, the bullying continued because each incident was seen as Morgan having a skewed perspective. After all, he had an autistic spectrum disorder and didn’t see social situations like the rest of the children. Therefore, the attitude was allegedly taken that if all the other children in the class were ok and Morgan was not, it was likely to be his ‘faulty’ perspective at play.


Let’s leave aside the little fact that children with special needs are significantly more likely to suffer from bullying by their peers. (And that combining this with repeated disbelief has caused untold damage in the past- damage that makes even Morgan’s experiences seem tame.)

And you know what, let’s pretend for a moment that people are correct in saying that autistic people are less reliable. (Spoiler alert: they’re not. When a crime happens, you want a witness with an Aspie memory close by! But let’s just pretend otherwise.)

Even then, the autistic person’s anxieties are still real, and they still need to be addressed.

Oh, and if bullying or abuse is reported by a distressed child- autistic or not- it must be taken seriously.

Britain is still dealing with the fallout of a whole generation of abused children who grew up being ignored: literally thousands of victims who had to wait until the twenty-first century to be believed. Things are a lot better now than they used to be, but disbelieving a child simply because of their neurological differences is not only damaging to their self-esteem: it’s putting them at very serious risk.

(Morgan is safe now, by the way, and he has been for a while. In fact, given time to grow up and the right opportunities to learn, he’ll be the perfect person to help and guide vulnerable people- and I’ve made sure to tell him so.)

I'm aware that point #3 may be better made if I didn't have such happy pictures of him here. But I won't have him here looking sad. Not a chance.

I’m aware that point #3 may be better made if I didn’t have such happy pictures of him here. But I won’t have him here looking sad. Not a chance.

4) Allow the world to teach them that autism is A Bad Thing.

Right from the moment we hear about it, we’re instructed to believe that autism is A Bad Thing. That’s why people like me get so many messages from worried parents, asking what they’re supposed to do post-diagnosis because they don’t know anything about autism.

But their worries reveal that they do know one thing about it: it’s supposed to be bad.

Speaking as an autistic man, my opinions differ somewhat. But I understand their panic completely. The unknown can be very scary if you feel something’s bad but you don’t know why. (For example, everyone feels a chill in their spine when their boss asks “can I have a word with you?”)


Now, non-autistic people seeing only the negatives is counterproductive enough. But imagine the damage that gets done when autistic people themselves are led to believe that their autism makes them deficient.

Heck, combine this point with #1 and talk about how terrible autism is right in front of them, and watch what happens to their self-esteem!


I’ll give two examples that struck me greatly. First of all, there’s Cadence.

For those who aren’t aware, Cadence’s family has their own Facebook page– and this picture below went sort-of-viral not long ago.


You may have already spotted the most tragic sentence (in my opinion), but I’ll quote it anyway:

Grownups always say its hard being mum or dad if your kid is autism.

Looking at their page, it becomes obvious that Mum and Dad are doing a sterling job as parents. But other people- the TV, and perhaps even society itself- have led Cadence to believe that a large part of her personality is A Bad Thing. Which is absolutely not fair.


Secondly there’s the story about a six-year-old Californian boy being comforted by Santa, after asking whether he’ll be on the naughty list because of his autism. Given Santa’s reaction, most people thought of this as a sweet story when they read this. But me personally- despite my reputed positivity about pretty much everything- I shuddered.

I dream of the day when six-year-old children won’t have to live with the baseless assumption that being autistic is enough to land them on the naughty list.

(Actually, wait- that assumption isn’t baseless at all. It’s based on what they’re made to feel by non-autistic people.)


And finally… a point which may rub a couple of people the wrong way, but it has to be said.


5) Let them find out that you “love them but hate their autism”.

This point is a step up from #4, only far more personal.

And yes, I am well aware that lots of people feel this way, parents in particular. Some have even written articles and blog posts entitled “why I love my child but hate his/her autism”. And I get it- watching vulnerable children struggle is a dreadful experience, and even more so if they’re your own. Hating the condition that holds them back is quite a natural response.


But bloody hell, it can be damaging.

Why? Well, imagine that a child’s mother makes the mistake of saying the sentence “I love my child but hate their autism” in a place where the child can overhear her. The child will take one very significant message from that, and one which will definitely stick with them:

“Wow… a part of me is so dreadful that even my mother can’t love it.”

Everyone struggles with their personal demons. Everyone. And some people only cope with their demons based on how well other people let them cope.

When someone knows you hate their autism, you are bringing those demons to life. You are giving their demons a name, and you are giving those demons authority.

More than anything, you are saying that the child is right to be fearful and hateful towards a large part of themselves.


Again, I get it. I’ve watched so many struggling children that I’ve had to learn how to steamroll over the physical hurt I feel for them (not that it always works, of course). And if there’s a stand-out factor that is causing them harm or lost potential, of course I want to address it. But I refuse to hate part of a child.


If you’ve reached the end of this and still “love the child but hate their autism”, that’s your right to do so.

But please, for the child’s sake, please never let them find out.

[Since writing this article, I’ve written another one entirely about the problems with “hating autism”, and the damage it causes to autistic people. For those struck by this last point, I’d recommend giving it a read.]


So to summarise:

Instead of talking about them as if they’re not in the room:

  • Remember that they can hear you, and always assume they are listening.

Instead of assuming a person’s autism defines their character:

  • Remember that they get to make personality choices just like non-autistic people.

Instead of believing that their perspective makes them less reliable:

  • Remember that you’re actually skewing your own perspective on autism by making this assumption.

Instead of allowing the world to teach them their autism is A Bad Thing:

  • Tackle the problem head-on and remind them how awesome they are.

Instead of loving the child but hating their autism:

  • Love the child.


Hope this helps some readers. Like I said, some of these mistakes are surprisingly easy to make- but then again, plenty of them are easy to avoid.

Again, feel free to take a look at Autistic Not Weird on Facebook.


And finally, there’s an extension to this article containing points 6-10!

Yeah, I originally planned to just extend this article, but instead I’ve doubled it.

Writing for Autistic Not Weird has now become my job, thanks to those who support me via Patreon. The extension to this article (and other articles too) is a thank you to anyone who thinks my work is worth $5 per month or more, and allows me to spend my time helping the autism community worldwide. To those interested:

Here is my Patreon page; and

Here is the extension to this article.


Take care,

Chris Bonnello / Captain Quirk



Footnote- people have offered other suggestions too, which are also good enough to share. I’ll list them below.

Additional ways to damage autistic children without even knowing:

6) Repress their special interests, since they often use these to communicate and cope with stress. (Stephanie Keyes)

7) Only focus on bad behaviour whilst ignoring good behaviour. (Stephanie Keyes)

8) Fighting all their battles for them, with the automatic assumption that they can’t do anything independently. (Adapted from a suggestion by Eric Van Gucht)

9) Leaving your child undiagnosed and refusing to get him the proper help he needs because of the stigma an autistic child will bring you. (Adapted from a suggestion by Kristin Pedigo)

10) Treat your child as if their autism-specific struggles are no different to what everyone else faces in life, which means that if they find their issues difficult it’s inferiority rather than difference. (Adapted from Audre C- more details in her comment below. Yes, autistic and non-autistic children have several struggles in common- more than we often think- but it’s so important to recognise when their issues need individualised help.)

11) Talk about a “cure” for it, implying that it needs to be cured, and because it needs to be cured, it is bad. (Pieter Dykhuis, age 14)



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:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Audible (audiobook version)
Book Depository
Review page on Goodreads

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  

About The Author

183 Responses

  1. Full Spectrum Mama

    As an autistic mother of an autistic child, I’ve never done any of these particular things…whew! However, like any parent, I’ve done things i regret: early on, I tried to teach my son to “pass” – because I knew how hard it had been for me. He wasn’t interested – and I am thankful now that the world is catching up to his self-acceptance…

    • Lyn

      I wouldn’t change a hair on his head. School is my biggest problem and my sons. It has literally caused my son to internalise and dis like himself. The root of anxiety is not inherently ASD but damage caused by teachers, peers, and by school environment itself. School sucks. Glasgow Scotland

      • CaptainQuirk

        Sadly that’s my experience with anxiety too. Although anxiety’s very prevalent in autistic people, mine was certainly done to me by life experience rather than neurology.
        All the best to your son- nobody should have to dislike themselves because of other people’s opinions. He’s more than welcome to read the Growing Up Autistic article if you haven’t seen it yet.

      • Kathleen McKay

        Pity schools don’t teach their staff about the issues an Autistic child has to face just getting dressed and leaving for school then arriving to heaving masses of noisy people and bright lights.
        . ,

      • Jamiee Collier

        It does in Australia too! School has done so much damage to my daughter ?

      • Ruth

        If I had the money I would have sent him privately or home schooled! School does indeed suck big time!!

      • Sharon

        I think the ideal environment for those with autism is a school where they can be amongst their own kind. Watching the “X-men” film series made me think of that, since mutants are ostracized in the same way. But then there would be those out there who would say you can’t remove someone from society for any reason. We should all be integrated. But what’s the point of integration if no one is willing to help those with autism or any form of disability to be their best selves, to build on their own strengths and interests? The only thing the normal society seems to want is for everyone to fit in i.e. be one of the flock of sheep. Making an effort is too much hard work, especially for those who don’t understand autism or have to live with it 24 hours a day. I’m beginning to find it pointless getting people to understand why ableist language is so offensive. They see it as just a bit of “harmless” fun. Sure. Until someone gets hurt. No. The only ones who understand autism are those who know about it first-hand. Why bother trying to explain it to someone too ignorant to be open-minded? Or too ignorant to realise the damage they have done? If only the schools would lift their game, but this is about as likely as Germany wanting to be host country of the Olympics again (according to reports, they don’t want it. Can’t say I blame them, really. Look what happened when they did hold them in Berlin and Munich. Bad things happen in threes-or can. Guess they don’t want to risk disaster). Maybe the best thing parents can do is encourage their autistic child’s love of learning and teach them to trust their instincts. If they believe it’s right, it is.

    • Abbi

      ? Thank you for not being a hater. I am best friends with many of the autistic kids at my school and I know how hard life can be. I love it that some people can learn to accept the differences of others autistic or not.

    • GROITT76543234

      From the other perspective i have to commend you on your self awareness. My family? aspie bullying scientific dogmtic father and pda autism pathologically lying machiavellian mother hav basically mind controlled my siblings into believing themsleves “normal” and trained them to hide , con and pathologically lie, not to mention a straek of sadism in all of them thats worsened over the years,
      Not only that but the institutions they have worked ofr over the years have benefitted greatly form their eager to please and impress behaviours at the expense of their family.
      very sad.
      i am disowned and disinherited for bringing up autism…and theyve closed ranks..
      pretty scary when yur the only one in the gang who cant see how bad their selkf confirming world of loneliness and lack of acknowldgement of who they actuyally are…
      they have pragmatic speech that has become a cult,m gamefied to deflect and confuse at which they delight.
      some of them are very empathetic too but my parents have tied their language upo and played on their neuroses so efficiently they are the clones they always wanted, modelled after my elkder brothers psyhe ,,,
      as they consider his sadism “witty”.
      animal obsessives they will spend a fortune on dog insurance but go to the nhs to be undiagnosed with genetic autism despite a whole family of medical professional in the extended bunch…all autistic too.
      they simply do not communicate and use pda autistic and psychopathic tactics to deflect from ever even noticing how they behave..
      narcissitic personality disoirder has spread though them like a disease.
      or asd or psychppathic traits or social communication disoder or pervasice development disoder or learning disoreder,,,etc etc depsite their apparent “high function”? insight is impossible for them as long as they turn to each othe to confirm their noiramlity/

      • amikatari

        Your family don’t sound at all autistic. Perhaps stick to judging their actions rather than trying to diagnose them, and stay away from them if they are so awful 🙁

    • Brendan

      My 6 yr old autistic grand daughter likes me to carry her into school, i always say do you want walk in and mostly she replies no ,once near the class room she is happy to walk …The school have now asked my son to tell me to stop. I know i can’t keep doing this but feel she does it for a reason.

      • Deborah Glide

        Hi Maybe it is the only way she can get into school, – does it make her feel secure, loved close to you, could be her way of giving you love, my son won’t cuddle or let me touch him – soon she will be too big to carry – go with the flow and enjoy the time and closeness – what’s the alternative? More stress??
        Doing a great job xxx Debbie

      • ME

        My daughter did the same thing! Turns out, she was afraid of the shrubbery outside the doors. The school was perfectly fine with whatever she needed though. On her very first visit to meet her teacher, the grounds people had cut the shrubbery and left the limbs on the sidewalk until they were all finished. She physically couldn’t approach! The secretary opened the office window and said, “Here, come in through the window!” It was perfect!

  2. LadyJ

    Autism I’d so integral to people’s personalities. If I could get rid of my bipolar, I would and I would still be me. If my husband got rid of his autism, he’d be a totally different person, I think. There are elements of our neurologically mixed marriage that are tough (like nt/nt relationships have no problems or differences, right? Lol), but I can’t imagine changing who he is.

    • Angela Radomi

      You know you are not a unique couple? I know 2 other couples where the wife has bipolar and the husband is on the spectrum. Both have been married for over 10 years. There must be something about this combination that works.

      • Saffi Eriksdotter (@SaffiEriksdottr)

        As a mentally ill person with autistic friends and an autistic kid, I’ve noticed this too. I suspect that people with emotional/mood disorders, who are inclined to distrust other people’s intentions and are often hypersensitive to being lied to or not told someone’s true feelings, find autistic people “safe” because they are more likely to be blunt and straightforward, and not try to mask their feelings with social graces. As for the other side – just a guess, but maybe autistic people enjoy being around people who are open and passionate about their feelings?

      • MoralityMonkey

        Too much generalisation perhaps, not statistically-significant, although interesting. My ‘strong character’ ex-GF identified as “bipolar” but was more like BDP. Lots of traits and maybe ASD (her brother shows traits, she does too but isn’t acknowledging it). Claims to have known she was different since she was a lot younger. “People wouldn’t understand” [What happens when you meet someone who might, eh?]
        So much lying to maintain frame and control. Such weak lack of moral strength and thus projecting and abusing me when all I do ‘wrong’ is obsess (try to learn how she works, like anything/anyone else). Of course, when Feminism makes a strawman boogeyman out of males who obsess and are ‘clingy’ etc (love involves obsession a lot of the time – just pick the right person, I say!). So even if that guy is good for her, or the best she could hope for, the culture is to reject him because commitment is inconvenient and why should a woman commit – women were enslaved and oppressed by men for centuries, etc etc. Somewhat of a lie, and yet another example wher it pollutes a good thing. Equality? Try being Autistic – you’ll learn to look at things and balance them up to see who has power… It ain’t us.

    • jcl

      Well said. I sometimes hate my bipolar but if i wasn’t autistic I would not be me.

  3. Lilly

    I love my autistic child as a whole. His autism is integral component of his personality and which contributes to making him who he is. I wouldn’t want him any other way. Sometimes, I feel I love him even more because of his autism. His autism makes him even more endearing, sensitive, entertaining, and humorous. We share a very special bond – the bond of autism. (from an autistic Mum with her autistic Son).

  4. sami griffiths

    I wouldn’t change my Autistic son for anything! He’s amazing & at 3years old he will only get more amazing! I learn something new from this beautiful child every single day!

  5. One Crazy Mama

    What about people who talk about curing Autism? My now 4yr old son was recently diagnosed and I keep reading people talking about cures. I’m not on the spectrum, so I don’t get a say, but I’ll admit, it rubs me the wrong way to hear parents/family members talking about curing their child. I could be completely in the wrong with my thinking, I am new to all of this I know.

    • foxtears

      No, Mama, your instinct is totally right. The vast majority of a/Autistic people are anti-cure. A cure is:

      a) impossible, autism is a structural difference in how the brain’s “wired up”.
      b) ethically troubling:
      bi) it implies that a difference in brain structure is something to ‘fix’ and thereby undermines the bit of the ADA that says that disability (including minority neurologies) is a natural part of the human experience.
      bii) fake cures take advantage of desperate parents, at their financial expense, at the expense of their relationship with their child, and often at the expense of the child’s health.
      biii) has some huge consent issues. While there might be a minority of a/Autistic people who would pursue a cure for their own purposes, the majority of people interested in this cure are parents who would consent to the cure on behalf of their children. Basically, such parents are saying “I love my kid, but if I could totally rewire their brain and make them a different person, I WOULD.” (spot the contradiction)
      c) philosophically worrying. As mentioned above, a cure constitutes completely changing a person. If you look at it from certain philosophical perspectives, that could be considered to be equivalent to killing a person (if you define a person as their personality), and replacing them with a new person in the same body. That’s several shades of horrific right there.

      You’re right to feel uncomfortable about it.

      • CaptainQuirk

        Nice in-depth response, and absolutely right. Thanks! 🙂

      • Janet Squires Calder

        Autism and ADHD & SPD explain why our son does X or Y but that is it. We only use it to get services or as needed to explain why he does something different. We have raised him to know everyone is different and he has a handicap in some things and is awesome at other things. He is high funtioning now at 11 1/2 but was non-verbal at 3 so there are no limits and that is where we leave things. Let the child show you what they are capable of and let the sky be the limit.

      • foxtears

        it depends whether it’s true ABA or something being called ABA in order to be applicable for insurance.

        The original ABA was invented by a Dr. Lovaas, who originally used it to “cure” effeminacy and homosexuality in young boys. It’s based on the premise that by modifying behaviours to appear normal, the brain will eventually become normal. As you can see, this is definitely flawed.

        Most autistic folks will say that yes, ABA is entered into with the intent to cure.

        Let me pull up a few links on ABA for you.

      • foxtears

        Also, big thanks to everyone commenting on this thread. It restores my faith in humanity that folks are starting to seek answers on these topics from a/Autistic people.

      • Diana

        I get beyond angry when people talk about curing autism! My son is 8, and his autism is part of the resin he’s the INCREDIBLE little man he is. If someone gave me a cure- I’d toss it down the kitchen drain. I love my son’s brain exactly the way it is, and would never for even a minute think of changing it!

      • Kerrie Berroyer

        Hello, yes knowing there are many of us who feel this way about our children and the autism with which they live, is a wonderful feeling. The more we share to others it trickles through, creating a positive and fearless attitude and acceptance to autism. years of negativity and lack of understanding are now being healed and removed with the help of so many, parents stepping up and speaking out as well as people who are on the spectrum. The greatest teachers of all. to me it is like learning a new language, for both the autistic and non autistic person, we both are learning anew way to communicate, yet keeping our unique selves in tact. if you have the time or wish to please have a peek at my website, I have just created I am very proud of it and would be honoured to have you give me your opinion. lovely to read your blog and look forward to others. I write mine from my perspective and experiences with our son, sharing and learning its wonderful x

      • foxtears

        Hmm, looks like my first comment got lost. Most a/Autistic people will tell you that ABA is supposed to be a cure, or at least a step towards one in that it’s supposed to make autistic people “pass”, or “appear less autistic”. The stated goal of ABA therapy is to make an autistic person “indistinguishable from their peers”.

        ABA also comes from a very troubling place. It was invented by Dr. Lovaas, who originally used it to “cure” boys of effeminacy and homosexuality. It works on the faulty premise that by modifying the behaviour to become normal, it will eventually change the internal structures to become normal.

        This is possibly my best link about ABA and its problems.

      • Jess Notelyn

        Yes, it does, because it tries to change the child’s basic behaviors-and without said child’s consent. A person is not an inherently bad parent for trying to do what they see as helping, but based off of the experiences of many autistic people who went through ABA therapy, it does more harm than good.

        Note- I am autistic, but I did not receive ABA therapy. I’m simply basing this on what I have researched and what other autistic people have said.

      • CaptainQuirk

        Good question. The autism community is deeply divided over this- largely because for every parent who will say it’s done wonders for their child, there’ll be another who says it was a destructive experience. It absolutely depends on the child.

        One striking quote (or close enough) that I read was “before you start ABA therapy for your child, ask why you feel s/he needs it. Are you seeking the therapy in order to enable them to learn new skills, or simply to change their behaviour to something closer to what you want to see?”

        I suppose the second one of those could be interpreted by some as an attempt to “cure” at at least remove autism. That said, there’ll be plenty of autistic children who is legitimately has helped.

  6. helenoneelanoraHelen

    You should never talk about a child while they are in the room, regardless of autism or not. Any child will prick up their ears if you talk about them. If you say negative things about them they will live down to your expectations.

    • Saffi Eriksdotter (@SaffiEriksdottr)

      I’d amend that to “never talk negatively about a child while they’re in the room.” I talk about my kids “behind their backs” all the time … making sure to say positive things about them where they can hear me. I figure it reinforces what I tell them directly if they hear me telling other people how great they are, too.

      • CaptainQuirk

        That’s a very good point. I was talking to the mother of a troubled 11-year-old not long ago and was well aware he was secretly listing on the stairs. So I made sure to tell his mum exactly the same things as I’d told him face-to-face (as in, having huge belief in him and thinking he’s wonderful). I’d have told his mum those things anyway, but I wanted him to witness it to prove that I meant everything I said.

    • PuccasMom

      Well, we talk about both our kids when they are in the room all the time–we just assume that they hear us and, when appropriate–like “hey, I was just telling auntie about last time we went to the Anime convention, what was that character with the buggy eyes?”–we include them in the conversation. The point is that talking about a person as though they are not there is very disrespectful, rather than whether or not you talk about them in their presence. Talk about them all you want knowing and acknowledging by the way you are speaking that you see them and know they can hear you. I like to believe there is very little–maybe nothing–I have to say about my child that I don’t think she knows or could know. That said, we have an issue, she and I, that she does not want me to share any stories that involve her, regardless of their nature. Here, I firmly assert to her and all that it’s my story too. I get to share stories of my experience of motherhood. They involve my perspective on interactions with my kids. I get to do that. They get to tell stories that involve me. I’d rather speak openly about experiences–with compassion and kindness for all involved–than have some kind of “secret” conversations behind closed doors. The point is to assume and acknowledge that the kid hears you and to speak accordingly, don’t pretend or imagine that, just because they appear to be paying attention to something else, they won’t hear Every Word You Say.

    • Christina Cramsie

      The worst thing is when you have appointments with their consultants and you have no choice, you have to have them there, and it is difficult to explain exactly what the problems are.

      • julie crawford

        Totally agree with Christina feel like such a horrible mum to my daughter when you have to discuss the issues you need support on!! Wish there was an easier solution xx

      • Christine Bevan

        I hate this too so now I do a report and give it to the nurse to pass on to the doctor to read before we go in.
        Explaining why I am doing it.

  7. Martin Witkop

    Thanks. My son has autism. I’ve often said that I wish everyone was like Travis and there would be no wars. People would all be nice to each other. I let him know every day that his mother and I love him. He is loving,respectful,and helpful. He is 23 now and works with children at the Boys and Girls Club. He loves everybody and every body loves him, from what I’ve heard. He never forgets a birthday. I wish I had his memory. I wish I had more time to talk about him but I have to get to work. I could go forever. He’s great. Thanks again for the article.

  8. Dawn @The Momma Knows

    Thank you, I love do this! We have always tried not to make assumptions about our son who is now 15, but the assumptions and expectations of others often come into play. Thankfully he can speak for himself and does very well. He has no real major anxieties either. By the way your little note about ” if you are reading this anywhere else…” is how I found your site. This post was scraped by and thst post is being shared on Facebook.

    • CaptainQuirk

      Thanks a lot for alerting me! I’ve taken some precautions that should hopefully stop this happening in the future.

      I *knew* putting that sentence in there was a good idea! 😉

    • CaptainQuirk

      Correct. I literally say so in the introduction. 😛

      What I am is a man with Asperger Syndrome who grew up with autism, who has also been a primary school teacher AND worked in special education with autistic students in all areas of the spectrum. 🙂

  9. Aubre C

    I don’t particularly know how prevalent my suggestion is, but it’s one that’s greatly impacted my dealings with life as someone who has both mental illness and autism.
    Treating your child as if they are ‘normal’- in the sense that any difficulties they face in life are no different from anyone else’s, and therefore any time they struggle with something they are made to believe it’s because they are weak or deficient, and not that they have unique problems of their own. Needs that not everyone else has. Treating your child as if they are the same as everyone else.

    As a fairly young child, I would hear my mom talk on the phone with friends an family about the son of a family friend who has Aspergers. I was able to relate to this, and asked her if I had autism. The response I got was “Do you want to be sick?!”. At six years old, this terrified me, and I clammed up about my ability to relate to those with autism until my teens. My parents would always make it very clear to me that I was a bad child for struggling with life the way I did. I had meltdowns, shutdowns. This was ‘because I was stubborn and unruly.’ They felt I was too loud, destructive, and unmanageable when I was enjoying myself. I was constantly met with punishment that I had no idea what I’d done to deserve. I was told that I must always smile, and be quiet. This was confusing to me- I could only smile when I felt happy, and felt like smiling. Forcing a smile was difficult, and the results were never satisfactory to my father. Even when trying to cooperate, I wasn’t enough. I was seen as being stubborn. Out of frustration, I would usually have a meltdown, and was told I was bad. Unruly. It was a harsh cycle in which I was never truly ‘allowed’ to be anything but emotionally unavailable and dead. My mom handled things a bit better, but after a certain age, she started to face judgement from many that she was ‘too soft on me’, and as a result I had grown up to be a monster. This wasn’t even the general consensus as I did well in school for the most part, most students liked me more or less (Most of the time people thought of me as “very friendly”, and “sweet”). My teachers adored me. But some still had problems with me. I was considered too emotional/sensitive, aggressive, and problematic. They felt that I was not at the maturity level that a 13 year old should be.

    In my mid teens, I was diagnosed with ADHD, GAD, and depression. My father blatantly refused to accept any of this, and insisted that it was because I wasn’t hard enough on myself, and essentially ‘made up’ these problems to gain attention, or just to make life harder on myself. My mom was more sympathetic, but usually tended to tell me that it ‘wasn’t an excuse’ for bad behavior. (Which could mean anything from having difficulty speaking to strangers, crying at ‘inappropriate times’, struggling to focus/forgetting to do homework/procrastination, and being sad for ‘unreasonably’ long. In other words, my mom inferred to me that I needed to suck it up, and that having added difficulty meant absolutely nothing.)

    Sometime around 17 years old, I revealed to my parents that I thought I had autism (for the first time in over a decade. I had been carefully researching, talking to those who were autistic, or had children/siblings who were autistic since I was 14) it was met with dismissal, even anger. However, my mom started to accept it more as time went on. She has even talked about it unprompted, and will relate things I do to autism.

    She struggles to show sympathy a great amount of the time still, but I’m not sure it’s for lack of trying. I’m 19 now, and things are getting better, but it’s long overdue, and I feel a lot of the reason was because they were unwilling to accept that I could have special needs. They were unwilling to take my needs into consideration because they wanted a ‘normal’ child.

    I’ve even had mental health experts (who did not specialize in autism and likely did not work with many on the spectrum) tell me that I was “being ridiculous” for bringing it up. They would use very stereotypical symptoms to ‘dismiss’ it on the dot without any further discussion. (Such as: I do not ‘speak in a monotone’, I can carry on small talk [forced to learn] and maintain some slight level of eye contact [uncomfortable, forced to learn].) Both were met in my late teens, some time after I had forced myself to be ‘normal’ enough to be able to find employment, and somewhat fit in to the professional world.

    I feel like a lot of people have a very black and white view of autism. I am usually seen as ‘eccentric’ or ‘awkward’ but not autistic because I have had to learn to hide things to fit in around others. (At home it becomes much more evident, even at nearly 20 years old I struggle to take care of myself on the level of a ten year old. I forget to feed myself or shower at times, I am bad at forcing myself to do housework, and often spend the time doing, as my mother would put it, “what Aubre wants”, much to her disdain.)

    Autism was always a comforting label for me, at the time in life when I started to accept that this is who I am. As a child and young teen, I felt weird, bad, different. I couldn’t relate to people, I was afraid of how others viewed me (I too suffered horrible bullying- kids actually would pick fights with me [I’ve always been a biggish person, I now stand at 6′ tall, and was bigger than everyone else growing up until my second year of high school or so- I’m still taller than most.] throw rocks at my head. Gang up on me and pin me down to listen to me scream and cry.), and I even got to the point of being suicidal because I felt like I was a horrible, damaged person who didn’t belong. A freak. I hated myself. I suffered with horrible self-image until very recently, and I still struggle to this day. When I started to learn about autism, it was a huge relief. I knew people viewed autism as ‘bad’, but I had always had a fair amount of faith in medical science, and it was comforting to know that there was a reason I was like this. That I WAS different, but not because I was ‘bad’. That there were others like me.

    In fact, interesting side story (that I will try to keep short- I apologize for my long-windedness) I actually got to see the son of the family friend that made me start questioning if I had autism. I was 17. (He’s actually higher functioning than I am, surprisingly.) We became best friends almost instantly, and later started to date. I have never been able to connect to someone on such a deep level. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life. It’s never been ‘easy’ to be together (he has a huge aversion to commitment, romantic relationships, etc. He also has, as he puts it, “difficulty projecting”, and seeing himself in the future.) however he makes me happier than anyone else. We have ‘been together’ (it’s hard to get feedback from him in the context of us as a couple) for almost a year and a half now, and while we have never been official in the sense of most couples (much to the disdain of my friends, who don’t understand, and tell me to leave him because of it) I feel it’s the most successful relationship I’ve been in. I was forced to tell his father recently (my parents have odd beliefs when it comes to dating, and don’t know. He prefers to keep our relationship quiet, and doesn’t really want his parents to be involved), and his dad also tried to convince me to ‘move on’ because of the way he is. (He explained to me many things I had already come to know. I had to explain that I am autistic as well, but I don’t think he still fully understands) However he has told me that if we can be happy together, he can be happy for us.

    As I enter adulthood, things are slowly getting better for me, as I learn how to manage being autistic, and as others become more accepting of my situation. However, I would’ve been spared a lot of confusion, devastation, and heartache if my parents would’ve accepted that I had special needs as a child, and didn’t insist that they made me a bad person.

    Anyways, thank you for reading, if you have. I’m terribly sorry that this is such a long comment. I was able to relate to this article a lot, and intend to share it with my friends and family.

    • Amber lancaster

      Hey girl, don’t be “sorry” in fact, Thank You For sharing!!! I can relate to the main article/some of the comments! so again, thank u 🙂

    • CaptainQuirk

      Thank you so much for sharing (and I’m sorry it took me so long to see it!). I’m sorry you had such a rough time because people refused to meet you halfway.
      You make very good points, and I am definitely adding your suggestion to the footnote list. 🙂

  10. Anna

    I’m kinda proud that I haven’t done any of the things on the list. Truly.

  11. Michelle Renee Frost

    My next door neighbour’s son is 16. He is non verbal but makes clicking screaming noises, claps loudly and leaps in the air with loud whooping sounds 24/7. I can’t sleep. I feel like I have been given his life because it is so close to my house.
    What can be done for severely autistic children?
    I can’t see that the father or the son has much of a life. The father just looks exhausted. I know how he feels!

    • jcl

      Perhaps someone can come and watch the young man for a few hours a day, so the dad can get out and get a break. Being a parent isn’t easy at all, and with a child with special needs it is draining beyond belief when their challenges are more severe.
      I am autistic, wasn’t easy to be with, and wore out and still wear out, friends and family. I sympathize with the young man too, but especially as parents get older, it is even more wearing on them.

      • claire

        I have a 21 year old son and a daughter who’s 18 an a12 year old son my 21 year old has aspergers and ADHD he was diagnosed when he was 16 I did everything since he was 5 as i was very concerned teachers telling me he lives in his own little world and he was boarder line dyslexia he used to draw and write up side down and did a test at lower school .there father is paranoid schizophrenia and was very challenging and dangerous to him self and others at times I thought for 11 years teachers telling me he was rude and naughty he won’t get a job or get anywhere in life got moved to a naughty school they couldn’t handle him so decide d to send him to a private school wear there was 4 kids to a class and had one sometimes two to one teaching social services was involved we had action for children working in the home to help and advise me parenting course s he got in lots trouble with police as he was hanging around with older kids And very vunerable .me and his dad split up everybody said it was learned behavior from there dad 4 years later he was diagnosed couldn’t get statement Ed to old my daughter has behaviour problems and got sent to naughty school and my 12 year old is very sensitive my son with aspergers and ADHD is now living in his own flat got entry level 1and2 in exams and is a very lovely careing young man he may struggle with day to day living but he has help I am so proud of him and all my kids we have been through a lot and feel the system let them down .

  12. Darlene

    I love my husband. I hate his diabetes.
    I love my son. But this condition that arrived, that would at another time been called Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, that robbed him of his language and his ease in navigating the world and planning his motor movements and seems to make the information coming in through his senses so often painful (I’ve seen his knees buckle at birdsong) … I’m not a fan. That said, I’ve no desire to get him back under the bell curve for its own sake, and your article was a good reminder not to gripe in front of him about those nights/weeks when his sleep is disrupted, any more than I’d let his siblings hear me complain about what’s going on in their lives.
    Thank you for a good article. Sometimes I wish autism wasn’t such a broad label.

    • Saffi Eriksdotter (@SaffiEriksdottr)

      You can wish individual symptoms and problems away without wishing your child was a completely different person. My autistic son is awesome, and his autistic brain is awesome. I love how enthralled he gets with learning lists of new information, and how he can give me lectures on the universe like a little scientist. I love how serious he is, and how straightforwardly he sees the world, and how bluntly honest he can be.

      But he and I both wish that he wasn’t reduced to sobbing terror by flashing lights; that he could relax more easily and sleep more, that he could tolerate distress without flying into intense rages. I tell him that brains are funny things, and that he’s great at some things (better than most other kids), but sometimes he has problems that most other kids don’t have, too. We all wish he could be happier and his life could be easier. That’s not the same thing as wishing I could wave a wand and make him a “normal” kid who points and makes eye contact and doesn’t memorize the periodic table, though.

      The problem I have with your comment is seeing his autism as a “condition that arrived,” a thing that happened to him, rather than as the way his brain was built in the first place. If he is autistic, then autism IS who he is, not a disease that changed him. It can be a disabling condition, and you can certainly hope and try to alleviate the negative aspects of it, but you can’t remove it from him; it’s a part of him that has always been there and will always be there.

      • Sara

        See this is where I’m confused. I’m autistic myself, and obviously I would rather not be prevented from going outside because of extreme sensitivity to temperature, be unable to clean my house, or have terrible executive function, among many other things. And there are things I love about myself, like my ability to analyze, my ability to see past things like hierarchies (although this unfortunately largely contributes to me being unable to have a job) and pretty much any other societal ‘division’, my incredible creativity, my intense interests, etc.

        But the things you’re describing as the good parts of ‘autism’ – the author just said were part of personality, not autism (which I don’t agree with in some ways because I don’t think personality and autism are separate things – the way in which NT people speak dismissively about any of our traits as ‘just autism’ is still wrong though because they are using the word autism negatively/as a disease/etc.). And to me saying that the good parts are ‘personality’ and the hard-to-deal-with parts are ‘autism’ is essentially saying ‘love the person, hate the autism’ (I think ‘hate’ is too strong of a word in many cases, but there’s definitely still the struggle inherent in some of the issues that autistics and their caregivers deal with). So that’s confusing to me. And I hope my comment made sense.

      • TK

        Here is how I interpreted the part on personality…maybe it will help:

        A person loves trains because they love trains. They love dinosaurs because they love dinosaurs. Etc. These are their interests. These are common interests for young children all over the world, in fact.

        When autistic children (and adults) have interests, we will often engage with them in a way that is influenced by our autism. I think if I were not autistic, for example, I would not have dozens of spreadsheets on my computer for my favorite games. Using spreadsheets is one of the ways I interact with and understand the things that I love! If I was not autistic, my love would probably show itself in a different way, but I would still love those games probably, because I think those games are fun.

        But a lot of parents (and NT people in general) tend to think, or get the impression, that certain interests are ‘because of’ autism. This child likes trains because he is autistic and that is an autistic thing to like. Etc. I think the point being made here is that the way that the child enjoys trains might involve their autism. Their struggle at school might be caused in part by their difficulties stemming from autism. But he likes trains because he thinks trains are cool. He struggles with school because lots of children struggle with school, because school is hard. He has a personality and a reason to enjoy things or dislike things or struggle with things. Sometimes when NT people describe everything in relation to autism it starts to sound like they think we are a collection of symptoms instead of a person.

  13. Dianne elliott

    My babies deal with abuse from society on a daily basis and I fight daily to prevent the damage . Having a meeting on Monday cause I’m not willing to send her into a school situation anymore . Children are punished for what they do to her but how do you change society to accept her when they just won’t ..

  14. Saffi Eriksdotter (@SaffiEriksdottr)

    I love this.

    I have one question I’d like your perspective on. I have an autistic son who is 8. He is highly verbal and also brilliant. I was lucky enough to learn about neurodiversity before I even had kids (I had adult autistic friends), and I’d like to think I’ve always been positive about his autism.

    I have tried to be open and honest about the subject of autism, without pushing conversations on him. However, he is clearly uncomfortable thinking or talking about it too much. What are your thoughts on bringing up the topic vs. letting him avoid it? He’s been having a lot of trouble in school – as in, he’s in a special emotional disorders room right now because the regular classroom couldn’t handle his explosive rages – and I think he could benefit from reading and thinking more about how autistic brains work, in order to help him understand how to navigate the neurotypical world. But I don’t want to make him feel “different” either. Any thoughts?

    • CaptainQuirk

      Hi Saffi,
      First things first, really sorry about the delayed response! WordPress has randomly stopped alerting me to comments on here, so I’ve only seen it today.

      It’s a tricky one. By the sounds of it (although I don’t want to make assumptions about a child I don’t know), he doesn’t see his autism as positively as you do. I’d try and find out his feelings towards autism in whatever way you can.

      Learning about autism itself would be handy, although I’m tempted to say it’d be more beneficial for him to learn about himself first- as in, how *his* autism affects *him* (including the positives. Absolutely including the positives! 🙂 ) Once he’s comfortable with himself as a person and his perception of his autism isn’t negative, then the more general things about autism may come easier.

      As for him not wanting to talk about autism- I’d say that right now he doesn’t have to talk about it in order to learn and “make peace” with it. Yes, it would be nice to have conversation about it, and I’m sure those conversations will come when he’s comfortable with the subject. They’re most likely conversations that will be built towards slowly.

      Again, this advice is given without me knowing your son, so please pick and choose the bits of this that work for you and him. 🙂 All the best to both of you.


  15. webmarji (@webmarji)

    I’m a 79 year legally blind woman who never knew for sure I was an Aspie until finally going into therapy this year for flashbacks caused by lifelong PTSD that resulted from unremitting childhood emotional and verbal abuse. It came from both fellow students and also teachers at public schools that in the 1940s & early ’50s that believed that it was not their job to educate a handicapped (blind) child and parents who were determined, with the best possible intentions, that I should become “indistinguishable from my peers”, yet refused to send me to the State School for the Blind where I might have had more of a chance to do so. Why? Because they decided early on that I would be “just like everybody else”. My father announced on the day he was told about the congenital cataracts for which, in those days there were no replacement lenses, that he didn’t want me to learn to act blind and be uppity like my cousin Carl who did attend that school. My mother was told by the high school guidance counselor my senior year that if she didn’t want me on her hands for the rest of her life, she should marry me off because I would never be able to hold a job or live independently. Not to go into detail, she gave that a good try, but at age 21 I was finally allowed to go to college on a scholarship, already four years older than my classmates, which obliterated any chance of relating to my age group who were already seniors. Because in childhood everyone had expected me to learn by osmosis and often remarked on my stubborn refusal to do so, it was my college friends who taught me table manners, how to cross a city street, how to use public transportation, how to go to a movie or a concert on my own, how to actually organize my homework and get assignments completed on time, even how to manage my living space and dress appropriately.
    It took me more that fifty more years to learn that everybody who is nice to you is not always your friend and that sometimes a person who has never had a friend before doesn’t notice that someone pretending to be your friend is actually making fun of you or is just eliminating competition. I completed a BA in English, later an MS in Rehabilitation Administration, and much later completed the classwork in an instructional design Ph.D. program focused on Computer Assisted Instruction, the last two at various times throughout my working life. My employment was in order: English teacher, radio copywriter, habilitation supervisor at a sheltered workshop, and finally CAI computer programmer at a medical school. I left each of these jobs, not by my own choice, not because of job performance issues, but because of workplace social issues, finally retiring on disability when I finally began to practice fulltime what before had had to be only sidelines: folk music which had been my love since I was ten, and the more lucrative ghostwriting
    Despite everything, over the years, starting with college, life continued to get better. I continued to learn how to be in the world while still preserving my own personality and interests. But some part of the puzzle was always missing. So this past year I began therapy. At last I had found a professional counselor who was wise enough to just say “That’s awful!” or “They shouldn’t have done that” or, most important, “Yes, you were right and they were wrong”. We started with the pictures and stories of my babyhood where it became apparent that, though my parents did the best they knew how until they sent me to publc school, the photos showed a child who was not “just blind”. In all of the lovingly preserved photos of their baby through age 5, I appeared to be totally alone in a crowd.
    The therapist saw, as I had when I looked at the pictures during my Rehab Admin class on identifying anomolous conditions in photos of children, some sort of autistic in the making. So we did some simple tests, not the battery for formal diagnosis, but just a few indicators. When I asked her if we needed the more extensive tests, she said, “I’ve seen the pictures and heard enough of your stories to conclude that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. That’s a lot of expense just to agree with what we already know.” So I became a self-identified Aspie.
    We continued working through my story, including all the vivid flashbacks:
    SAMPLE: The first grade teacher who wrote 5 + 3 = on the blackboard. Another child shouted “FIVE”. I raised my hand and asked “Why?”
    I could name the numbers, but had no idea what they meant. My parents had been so impressed with the little genius who had stood up in her crib on her first birthday and recited 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10. But they never thought to check if I could count. They assumed that was the proof. So on the little questionaire they had assured the school that I could count and knew my alphabet, so was ready 4 months before my 6th birthday for first grade.
    What I needed was for the teacher to put five marks beside the five, three marks beside the 3 and then count them to eight. Of course Piaget was unheard of then. But the teacher had an answer for me. She strode across that wooden floor and slapped me hard in the face, saying “Don’t interrupt again.” From that day to the day light finally dawned in my Elementary Teaching Methods class in college, arithmetic was a magical thing that I simply could not do. Why? Because I knew intellectually that counting was the basis of everything numerical, but actual counting I had never learned to do.
    Every moment of those 1941 days rose up unbidden now and then in my grownup mind as vividly as the day it happened until the therapist and I finally laid it to rest in 2015.
    Finally, most of the trauma has been outed and named. The flashbacks have actually stopped (what a relief). We’re thinking the therapy is about over; but I’m feeling as if the work is not done yet. Until I read this article this morning, I thought the next part of the journey would be to write a book that might be helpful
    But no. It’s not time for the book yet. I still need to accumulate the data for the other half of the story which is the accomplishments, the victories, the many instances of resilience that were and continue to be necessary, the bullying that never stops but the boundaries I’ve learned to build against it, the increasing ratio of happy times over difficult ones as years went by and I took better and better control of my life, how my special interest sustained me through everything and is still my chiefest joy, and how society has changed over the years so society no longer seems nearly as obliged by tradition to stuff an Aspie into a traditional role whether s/he can fit or not.
    So thanks for this article. It has sent me off in a new and better direction.

    • CaptainQuirk

      Wow… there’s so much to take from that post. Thank you so much for sharing your story. 🙂
      I’m so glad that, despite the difficulties that were placed on you, you clearly have found places where you could play to your strengths, and it really made me smile when you write that life did get better as it went along.
      I wasn’t expecting that comment at the end! Thanks so much- it’s quite an honour to have had some useful influence over someone as insightful as you! 🙂 All the best with your new and better direction, and thanks again for the story you shared with us. 😀

    • mmc

      Thankyou for sharing, I’d love to read whatever you write – you are totally engaging!

  16. Sonny

    Thank you for writing this. I don’t think I do any of these things but it’s great to be reminded and have something to pass on to other people. – Dad to an autistic boy.

  17. Meg

    As someone who also has aspbergers syndrome-thank you! My mom never actually said she hated autism but she has said she hated seeing me struggle like I have. But I will say I’m positive that it had to be hard on parents raising autistic children during a time when most of the public didn’t know about it/when it was never actually a diagnosis. Growing up it was thought I had add, it wasn’t till during high school that it was changed to aspbergers. Maybe it was the way they said aspbergers syndrome that made it seem bad to me and I’m finally becoming more comfortable with that diagnosis and with admitting that I have aspbergers.

    • CaptainQuirk

      I’m glad you’re seeing it all in a positive light, even if it was not that way at first. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  18. Bella Isola

    Thank you for writing this article (a friend shared it with me on Facebook), I found it both interesting and useful. As a high school teacher who has worked in several different countries, not a school year goes by without at least one student somewhere on the Autistic spectrum appearing in my class. I have genuinely enjoyed working with every single one of them.

    My main issue is ignorance – if I don’t know (from the start of the year) that a kid has Aspergers (for instance) then there can be some challenging moments, sometimes with me (“why the hell is this kid so stroppy”) and sometimes with other kids (“he’s different from us and it’s easy to wind him up”). Often this is because the school hasn’t passed on the information, but occasionally it’s because no one has diagnosed them yet. Like many, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of “labelling” someone, but for me as a teacher, I find it helpful to know, because then I can relax – a little switch clicks in my head and I know what kind of techniques to employ.

    For me, it’s then an interesting challenge – how to navigate through the layers until the student and I come to a point where we understand one another. It’s MY responsibility first to find that way in, the way that works for them, so that that they’ll trust me and know that I’m working WITH them. A few years ago, one of my 14 year old students was finally diagnosed as having Aspergers and we were given a few pointers on how to make her feel more comfortable (such as letting her doodle on a little sketch pad when she was feeling anxious), because she was certainly not enjoying school!. A little later I was going over her work and I said “I love reading your stories, you’re a fantastic writer and I really like having you in the class.” She looked shocked and said “but I thought you didn’t like me!” I was horrified! My ignorance about the layers of who she was as a person meant that my more strict reactions to her stroppiness and agitation made her feel that way! I apologised to her and then we discussed ways in which we could communicate without others knowing (that was her request), such as a signal when she was feeling particularly stressed, so she could go outside for a while to have a break. That experience taught me an awful lot about how to deal with each student as a complete individual, and I think it has made me a better teacher.

    Knowledge is power, and your suggestions are very helpful. 🙂

    • CaptainQuirk

      Thanks a lot for sharing. Very striking story about the student who thought you didn’t like her! Sadly that’s often the impression people get, whether we intend it or not. Very glad you had the opportunity to sort things out with her- I bet it helped her out a ton (and like you said, it definitely would have made you a better teacher!).
      Thanks for the compliments too. 🙂

  19. David Canoy

    My son is mildly autistic. He has obsessions and verbal ticks, little concern for social niceties a violent temper and overwhelming desire to control everything and everyone. That said, he is also more empathetic than I am, comes by his anxiety honestly (most of my family suffer social anxiety.) And is basically a very sweet 4 year old in a very agile strong sturdy 6 year old body. He goes to a private school that is specifically designed for autistic children and is making rapid progress. Occasionally I might let his autism define him, but mostly it just seems to me it is a part of the wonder that he is. All my other kids grow up like kids do and pull away from me with age. I’m selfish, I hate that he might suffer any stigma later and I fully expect he’ll fully integrate later, but for not I get more of the sweet (sometimes angry, or vulgar) baby that they lose so quick. He isn’t competing to grow up. He just does what he wants and he’s beautiful doing it.

  20. Liz Wallace

    Thank you, thank you!! My darling son, age 7, was just recently diagnosed with Aspergers. All the information I’ve read has been overwhelming, and very clinical. Your words have soothed my heart!! My son is wonderfully loving and caring and compassionate. He is incredibly creative and intelligent. He is better than “normal”!! 🙂 Thank you for your support and love for our children! May God bless you always!!

    • CaptainQuirk

      Haha, lovely words- thanks very much! 😀 Very glad you’ve found this useful, and that you’re not letting any diagnosis get in the way of seeing your son’s real strengths. 🙂

  21. Kelly

    I have a 10yr old son with high functioning ASD. I am just so greatful that I was chosen as his mother and truely believe that his autism is what seals the deal on his undeniable AWESOMNESS !!!!

    Like many others out there, I would never even consider taking anything away that makes him who he is. How quiet and rather boring our life would be without have the chance to see life from the perspective of a child on the spectrum or the enjoyment we get out of regularly being blown away by the humour and laughter he provides.

    But most importantly, I know he would never want to loose any part of himself that is responsible for making him unique. He is totally aware of his autism and is so proud to be living his life on the spectrum. From day one I have discussed, taught and informed him of exactly what was going on and what it could all mean whilst assuring him he is and always will be totally awesome regardless of any diagnosis.

    So following his diagnosis when he was 8yrs old he was already so equipped with knowledge and many tools to place him in a position where he was comfortable to be himself and ready to accept his diagnoses

    Obviously this approach is not going to be appropriate for everybody & their families but I really believe that for us it’s what’s led my son to have nothing but positive experiences and thoughts towards himself and his awesome ASD.

    Really though, what more could a mother want for her child than to know that they are proud to be exactly who the are.

  22. mmc

    Fabulous article,thoughtful, informed and enlightening. Thank you so much ?

  23. Ruppert

    I think we should look at those who are autistic the way we would a person speaking a foreign language…not inferior or damaged or weird, just a different way of communicating….the best way to understand them is to immerse ourselves in their way of communicating…we might be surprised to find they are not so very different after all…Thank you for being a champion for so many!

  24. Laurinda Wells

    I do not have an autistic child and am only an observer. However, I know of a family who has an autistic child and posted a photo of their child on the roof of their house on facebook. Is this an accepted practice of children with autism? And is it something parents are allowed to encourage? Apparently he does it frequently.

    • CaptainQuirk

      Tricky one- and one I don’t think I could comment on accurately without knowing the child. I suppose it would depend on the severity of the child’s needs, the child’s awareness of the risks s/he faces, the height and angle (and strength!) of the roof, the supervision of the parents, and more than anything else a safe plan to get the child down again.

      Personally, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t encourage any child onto a roof unless it’s a very special occasion (watching fireworks for example) and even then they would constantly be under my supervision.

  25. Kim Wagner

    Thank you!!! My 12 year old son has just been diagnosed after being DX with ADHD since he was 4. I always suspected there was something else . I think your article hits the nail on the head!! He is his own person and can make choices and that is what I tell him! This is not a Disability and I will not allow him to use it as a crutch. He’s a smart boy who thinks and worries like an adult. He will be a stronger person because he has to deal with more stress than other kids. Keep up the good work! Kim

  26. Tony

    As an autistic person myself with Asperger’s, I know and understand how difficult it can be growing up. I am 34 now and I feel my autism does not effect me as much when I was a kid, but I do know It still effects me socially.
    Kids with autism now days I think have it allot easier cause autism is allot more known and been studied. When I was growing up as a kid, not allot was known about it.
    A few years ago I remember seeing and hearing those tv and radio commercials about “my kid has autism” and they were making it seem like a bad thing. Being autistic isn’t a bad thing, in fact I think it is an awesome thing at least for aspergers.
    I know I have always been allot more perceptive growing up and I am able to figure how to do things by looking at them. We are very intelligent and knowing likely we do not like doing bad things or even harming others.
    I know Kids will always still have a hard time with autism but it will get better as they get older.
    I was just lucky that I had a mother who spent allot of time learning about this when I was growing up, she fought hard with the schools I went too cause of the trouble I had in them. Yes I was bullied as well in schools but I was just lucky to have a mother who fought like heck with the schools to make sure I was safe.
    To this day, I still consider myself to be very lucky in how I turned out and I do thank my mother for helping me.
    I also hope my message will help parents of autistic kids to feel better about them. “Not saying they don’t already”.
    Just wanted to share my mind about this. Thanks for reading.

    • CaptainQuirk

      A lot of what you said sounds extremely familiar. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  27. Autimotive

    This is a well-written article to make people aware of how they’re unconsciously damaging children with autism (or other “special needs”…. ugh…. I hate that word…) I shared it on my Autimotive Facebook page. It’ll sure be of interest to my followers.

  28. Jill

    I find parenting my teen with autism easy and fun. His personality and his autism are amazing. He too loves Sonic the hedgehog.

  29. Aging Ophelia

    Thanks for this wonderful article. It not only gives me clarity in what to say, it gives me clarity of purpose– to challenge these damaging statements, each and every time I hear them.

  30. Qwerty

    I have Asperger’s. I feel really bad when my stepmother denies it whenever she wishes, it’s really confusing. She even wanted a second opinion (which she got), and guess what? I am still an aspie. Nowadays she doesn’t do it as often, but it still hurts my feelings.

  31. jeanette

    As a autistic mother my son did had problems with his hearing don’t u think he can still hear the things people r saying to him he brake out crying for no reason but this when he in school when he home I don’t have a problem with him

  32. Pieter Dykhuis (14 with Aspergers)

    11. Define autism as a problem with the brain.

    • phil

      Or define autism as problem with NT brains incapable of understanding anyone thinking differently to themselves.

      • Pieter Dykhuis (14 with Aspergers)

        12. Talking about a “cure” for it, implying that it needs to be cured, and because it needs to be cured, it is bad.

  33. Chesne

    I think that my mom might have grown up thinking that autism is bad too. It explains why she’s been so strict about me getting medicine to ¨fix¨ it. I also think that, like in number 3, my mom thinks that my perspective is skewed, but maybe she’s right. It’s rather frustrating.

  34. Cam Day

    I’m an undiagnosis Aspie (I fit every area of the diagnosis criteria). My parents avoided the fact that I was so different in school and once I got to an age where I figured out myself I didn’t want to make it official because I would have issues going into law enforcement as a profession. One of the biggest issues I had growing up is my parents would force me to be social on their schedule. They wanted me to talk when I would be working on something in my brain and not on paper. They don’t understand the way I think or how I obsess. On the job, I can function with anything, but at home I would like to but able to act like who I am instead of putting on a facade. It takes to much work to deal with people who can’t live with me without me having to change for them…that’s why I have a second job with a small company that includes another aspie and two very understanding nts. We travel my two off days… they are so much easier to deal with than my family. For me it isn’t even work. I wish people knew what it is like to live in a world where understanding the actions of others is a gift not a right where there are few people I understand at an emotional level, even fewer who I call friends. A world where I feel like an alien.

  35. Sarah

    I was told I was slow. School was easy but people were hard. I still struggle with the social awkwardness. Two out of three of my children have Asperger’s. They are brilliant and uniquely made in their mental design. One is an artist and another plays violin and studies water fowl. I wish I could have be nurtured and not tortured. Family support was worse than the bullies at school. Now I am the voice for them when they need it. Asperger’s is a gift. We see things that others can not. It makes life very rich.

  36. Concerned Mom

    This is such a good article, and I love all of the comments and sharing here. I am so confused and concerned. I am just starting to suspect my daughter may have Asperger’s, but we previously thought it was anxiety and depression. Is it damaging to treat her with anti-depressants if that’s not the issue, or do these go hand in hand? I’m not looking for a ‘cure’ but just feel like I’m doing everything wrong. My oldest has ADD and I think I focused so much on helping her through school and learning, that I missed noticing that my daughter was more than ‘shy’ and ‘struggled with social settings’.

    • Sara

      I have heard that the usual treatments for anxiety and depression and other mental illnesses can work differently or even backfire in people with autism, however in my case, they helped me dramatically. I was an undiagnosed autistic until age 25 when I diagnosed myself, but I was diagnosed with depression at age 14 (and likely had it long before that). Anxiety also has and continues to be a ubiquitous part of my life. As such, i was put on my meds long before discovering I am autistic. I’m on an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer and could not live without them.

      As is extremely common in autistic girls because they are so under-diagnosed, your daughter likely does have anxiety and depression as well as autism – due to going undiagnosed with autism and the incredible and invisible stress that it puts on a person. Of course it depends on your individual situation, but as long as you do not expect the anti-depressants or other medications to take away her *autism*, they might be very helpful for her. The meds are a lot more often used to manage co-morbid conditions that occur due to coping with autism in our society (or just happened to occur alongside it).

    • Sara

      Also I can provide you some direction to resources on female autism if you are interested. In case you aren’t aware already, it can present very differently from the typical ‘male’ stereotype of autism.

  37. The Mum Reviews

    This is such a useful post. My son is bring assessed so I’m new to all this but I could see myself falling into these pitfalls if I’m not careful, whether or not he turns out to be on spectrum.

  38. Kristen Krascek

    Whether this article is serious or tongue in cheek, I agree that these are damaging things. We must learn as parents also with our children, even the neurotypical children will teach us a thing or two – even more so with kids on the spectrum. I love that my son has Asperger’s and I know his personality and his Asperger’s can sometimes be hard to pull apart to figure out which is which but in the end he is himself and I love him to the moon and back and more. I wouldn’t have him any other way except that I just want to protect him and love him so much!

  39. Sara

    Do you have or know of any articles that go further into explaining #10 on your list? This is a particularly important topic for me.

    • Sara

      Also #3, if you have any more detailed resources on that that could be given to people to read – the underlying tone in our house is often that I’m too sensitive to have my account or perspective on something taken seriously

  40. Shawna

    The second one, the one about not letting autism define your kid’s identity? Sites for adult autistics constantly tell people that their autism DOES define their identity and personality.

    • TK

      I’m not sure which sites in particular you are thinking of, but I have never encountered a site that tried to tell me what defines my identity and personality.

      A site for autistic adults is going to focus on discussing autism and how autism affects our day-to-day lives…the same way that a site about Star Trek is going to focus on Star Trek and how Star Trek has influenced, for example, other pieces of modern media, etc. A website for Christians is probably going to focus on their beliefs and how their beliefs affect and influence their lives.

      The mistake is in assuming that this is the only site that autistic adults do or should visit or communicate on. We are all over the internet having various conversations about various parts of our lives. I think very few people in this world define themselves solely by one aspect of themselves. But if this one aspect is the only thing you currently see on display, it is easy to mistakenly believe that this is the only thing that they think or care about, and this is more common in the age of the internet. Reading a blog by an autistic adult and seeing comments by autistic adults might give the impression that it is all about autism all of the time for this group of people – but the blog topic is autism. Then they all sign off and go have dinner or watch their favorite movie, or they go on a forum to talk about the new book they are reading or their job that they love, and might not think about their autism at all, or they might think about it a great deal, depending on how big of a role it plays in their lives.

      Again I am not sure which websites in particular you are thinking of, but as an autistic adult, I do read many sites for autistic adults, and I have never felt pressured by any of these sites to define myself by my autism. I am a person with many facets to myself and my existence, autism is a big part of me but not the only thing that I am.

  41. Emma

    My mother didn’t tell me she knew I was autistic until I was an adult. I’m on the lesser end of the spectrum, so she was able to get away with not telling anyone because she didn’t want to give me a label, particularly in school, and didn’t want me to be treated too differently, although I needed some emotionally based accommodations that were provided. However, I’ve always hated most of your “don’ts” and everything is starting to make sense now. Thank you!

  42. Sharon

    There is another way parents can damage their autistic child- allowing doctors to prescribe antipsychotics (keep in mind it’s possible that the doctor in question has only just met the child, but assumes it would be a good idea for him or her to “take a tablet for me”). This is why I still harbour resentment towards my mother because to my mind she permitted this
    pseudo psychiatrist to prescribe first Mellerill, then Zyprexa and Risperdal (I’m possible exposure to this last one caused my heart murmur). Doctors knowingly do this because they believe it will “help” control thoughts and feelings. But everything comes at a cost.
    These medical “professionals” don’t care about improving quality of life for those with autism. They’re more interested in “the quick-fix solution”, meaning, sticking a band-aid over a bullet hole. And if the autistic child or adult who is a part of the “prozac nation” dies because of this
    carelessness? Just a tragic mistake for
    this callous lot to bury. I cannot undo what this ableist doctor (who actually diagnosed me as “psychotic”, can you believe that?), but I will be doing my damnedest to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Parents- if you really do love your autistic child, just say NO to antipsychotics. And report any doctor who believes it to be a good idea.

  43. sara

    But I have been abused by a an autistic child, I am her nany.
    She recently spot on my face I don’t think this have to be ignored just because she is autistic.
    I mean it’s okay if you are autistic , I let you be but please don’t abide others.

    Yes life isn’t easy I have always been a very shy and insecure person but I never abused anyone, no one have right to do this . Not matter if you are autistic, so I don’t agree about this completely acceptance.

  44. Jamiee Collier

    Thank you for the read. Very eye opening. Im definitely 100% supportive of my daughter but i must admit im guilty of one of those points. Saying its your autism when she asked…. youve made me realize i shouldn’t be saying that. So again, thank you ?

  45. Sharon

    It’s not just antipsychotics I have an issue with (one thing to remember is that the drug companies behind these spend more money on marketing than research, which only confirms my suspicions that they don’t care who is hurt or dies as a result of the medication. I have a very suspicious mind- not because of autism, but because of school bullies, teachers, doctors and even members of my father’s family). I have a problem with the word “tolerance” being used in reference to not just autistics, but any form of disability. I have actually been referred to as an “it”. This occurred many years ago, but I still haven’t forgotten it. That is what neurotypicals need to remember: to use their words with a bit more care. Don’t be tactless like my own grandmother was. Because the autistic never forget, or at least, I don’t. Those who are different deserve acceptance and understanding. They are not just an “it” or a “thing” to be tolerated and/or ignored.

  46. Daniel Knight

    Worse than any bullying in school was the way my ex treated me once I was diagnosed, like it gave her an excuse to blame everything on Aspergers and stop treating me like a person she could love.

    I am grateful to her and the therapist who first said I had Aspergers. It’s good to know why I am a misfit (literally) in this neurotypical world, but I see my perspective as a strength, not a defect. Her loss, and I am better for it.

    • MoralityMonkey

      Right on, bro. Let ignorant people stew in their own b.s. and weak people with nothing to offer, run away because they know if you’ve got a legit reason to concentrate on keeping yourself together, then you’ll not be exploitable by them so much to do their self-realisation for them. Lazy people abound (I make some stereotypical assumptions here, but human nature is what it is and modern take-not-give culture is what it is). Self-respect and self-esteem is a must, and your human right, as long as you don’t abuse others (including as a consequence of AVOIDABLE ignorance of self). Good luck and there are a few pitfalls that one should make sure not to make (hinted at above), the rest is up to your own personal style. Personally, I’ve had brutal bullying and also since I left school. Constant prejudice because I’m not some shrinking violet scared person. Often been hit just for saying something honest verbally. Then I get told by some little girl in a woman’s body, that she’s equal or better than me because I admit my flaws due to trying to be anti-egotist and feeling strong enough to be that change I want to see in the world. People fear what they don’t understand, and they don’t understand what they cannot grasp. But it’s always their problem, unless it’s your problem. Everyone must do their part, just don’t EVER accept compromising your self-esteem and life for someone else’s wilful ignorance. For love of children who don’t know any better, for example, sure. But let women feel the error of their ways, so like men they can grow stronger, not weaker when ‘daddy’ (or surrogate father) will have to hurt himself to make it better. Don’t protect them, and dump them like a stone if they demand that privilege so many of them claim to hate when us ‘privileged’ males have it. Respect yourself fully like that, and the women you attract will be higher quality, and the Autism won’t make that much difference. Lying and its myriad forms is what kills relationships dead. Personally I love touching a good woman, because she can be sure my meaning is not a lie and is pure. It’s a very solid communications channel, and very important in the love process. Avoid women who don’t appreciate this – note how they react to touch…

  47. Jraussie

    I don’t want to offend anyone here so please take this question as an honest request for education and enlightenment. I am a Mum of a son with Asperger’s/ODD. He is 12yo and lives in care because his behaviours are so extreme we could no longer keep our daughter safe and he needed more care and help to reach his potential than two loving but exhausted parents on Carers Payments (Australia) could provide…he is now cared for with the equivalent of 12 full-time staff and $1 Mill/year and doing better. Anyway, here is my question…How is saying “I hate the effect Autism has on my son” any different to what the parent of a cancer patient would say about their child’s cancer, or the parent of a Schizophrenic sufferer about the psychosis? This is in no way saying that I hate ANY part of my son’s personality. I am saying that I hate to see my son struggle with every day situations, the same way I hate my anxiety when I struggle every day to get ready for work rather than hide under my blankets. I hate it when my son sees the bruises he has inflicted on me and bursts into tears and apologies from the guilt, despite the fact he had to ask me where the bruises came from because he can’t remember the two hr long meltdown that resulted in the police and ambulance at the door and a ride to the hospital…because it wasn’t HIM that damaged the muscles in my arm because he bit down so hard he needed two grown men to pry his teeth out of me…THAT WAS AUTISM. Please remember, this is honest and heartfelt. I intend no insult or disrespect to anyone.

    • Tracy Plaisance

      I agree. It’s like most everyone think all aitiwtic are high functioning. Having a severe autistic child is very stressful and yes if there was a cure I’m sure they would want it .I would want my child to be able to take care of himself when I die. I don’t want my child wearing diapers at 16 or and adult. This is what parents are talking about when they say they would cure it if they could. Of your child is a savant, great! High functioning ones and their parents do not speak for all autistics and espexespec the ones who severely struggle

  48. Catherine

    We’ll done you hit it right in a lot of words can even say I have two children one with autism and learning difficulties and Adhd hearing enpairnent the other girl with aspergers with mental Health issues no Social skills lies in her bedroom no friends and teachers don’t know her she in her own we world with brains to burn

  49. donna

    This is a very helpful article. I get what you are saying in number 2 about personality not being autism. But the colleague you quoted that asked if you were stressed as things were out of your routine, well to me that sounds like they were trying to understand. Had learned a bit about autism and were attempting to be supportive. When others that are attempting to be aware see comments like this in articles, I think it can have a negative effect as they then think why bother trying? Your colleague managed to annoy you even though they were trying to understand. Kinda damned if you do, damned if you dont. So I wish articles like this would point out that you understand someone was trying to be supportive, even if they got it wrong… otherwise it sounds like you dont appreciate people even making the effort.

  50. Samantha

    I have 2 boys, 14 & 10. My oldest has Asperger’s and ADHD, my youngest has ADHD and they both deal with a bit of anxiety and over stimulation difficulties. Social skills were certainly a trial for my oldest due to his Autism (he’s come a long way in the last couple years) but every other issue he’s had, in my opinion, has been related to the ADHD and anxiety. My youngest without ASD struggles with some of the same things in relation to anxiety and ADHD. If I could take away the anxiety I definitely would. If I could take away the ADHD I would. (Heck, if I could take away the teenage hormone issues I would! Lol) But I’ve learned over time that the Autism isn’t such a big deal. (Except for when it’s a big deal in a good way!)
    My son could identify and comprehend 6 digit numbers in kindergarten while the rest of the kids were learning to successfully count to 20! His ability to engineer his own original transforming creations from legos (before lego made transformer legos) was/is incredible! He just showed me a new build last night! He had a hard time with fine motor skills until he found his love for legos; he honed those motor skills himself by building with the tiniest lego pieces available! He’s taken up origami the last couple years and excels at that as well. His Autism is a pretty awesome part of who he is. (Not to leave his non ASD brother out…he’s pretty amazing as well and I’m grateful that he has many great strengths of his own…but this post is more about ASD)
    I think one of the best things socially is when our kids who think/act differently at times find a good friend (or 2 or 3) that are much like them or at least have no problem with (& usually like) their differences. My oldest found those friends in 5th grade and it made a huge impact in his life. They aren’t all autistic but they are all kinda quirky in the way they joke and play and it’s hilarious listening to them sometimes. My husband and I privately share pics sometimes in pride of seeing his social accomplishments because we see him growing into a fine young man with good friends who support him for who he is.

  51. Pamela Hamilton

    Yes, my daughter loves her daughter. She would die for her. But she’s about to lose her mind, because her daughter has autism. And not just that. It’s how autism effects her, and the entire family. Everyone is different, and every One who has autism is different. Some are fine. Some are not! SHE is not! You would have to be there to understand. Her daughter does repetitive, crazy shit all day long. Typical punishment does not work. If my daughter was not such a wonderful mother, she would give her up in a heart beat. Most people can’t deal with that kind of stuff. I can’t even help. I have my own special girl to deal with. Autism CAN be terrible! Unfortunately, In this case, it is. “We love her, but hate the autism” for sure. OMG

  52. zara

    Both my children have autism and i wouldn’t change them for the world my son said to me the other day when we was watching a program and someone mentioned about fitting in at school he said ” why should i fit in when i was born to stand out” 🙂

    • MoralityMonkey

      Excellent and heart-warming to read that. Personally, I was forced to stand out due to local politics. Thus making me a target in a significant extra way on TOP OF the Autism’s natural bullseye effect. The flip-side of the brutality and learning to overcome this adversity (if lucky, and not a sucicide statistic) – is that one doesn’t care what the herd thinks. One has independent leadership skills, perhaps. One can tell people what they need to be told. One can stand-out without fear of losing social power that is given by being shackled to conformity. People didn’t used to like or respect me too much in school, but by God they followed trends I set sometimes.

  53. Sharon

    The anger that so many autistics feel is something I can understand, because I feel it too. Not quite as extreme as when I was a teenager, but
    on a bad day, yes. At least I know I’m alive when I feel such emotions as anger or disappointment. The way the world is, it’s hard not to be. For someone on the spectrum to feel the need to scream out expletives points to
    some deeper seated problem. They’re not saying “F-you” to anyone or anything in particular, they’re screaming
    “F-you!” at life. Not the most ideal way to live, but better than the alternative, which is giving up. One of the cold hard facts of being autistic in a neurotypical world is you’re either a survivor or you’re dead. I prefer the former-at least on a good day. But the one thing I want to say to any teenagers struggling is: “Hang in there. It just might get better. Some things are worth living for.” I have been there, and
    while it isn’t something I wish to go through again, it’s given me perspective.
    And yes, I am a proud member of overthinkers anonymous, and not afraid to be so.

  54. Sharon

    Does anyone out there feel like an imposter, a person without a country? I come from somewhere (Australia ) that doesn’t handle “different” well. One woman (I won’t name names, but you might know who she is) said : “Get those people out of there!” about autistics in mainstream schools. Why is it still permissable to be ableist (even if there is backlash, I can count the complaints on one hand), yet if racist, sexist or homophobic comments pass someone’s lips, the public raises hell. I actually wrote a poem which asked where’s the storm of outrage when it comes to disability. Can we even rely on neurotypicals to care? I wish I could
    trust in their reliability, but I’ve been let
    down and disappointed too much. And my main beef is that so many of those who have wronged me won’t admit to making a mistake or say “I’m sorry I let you down.” No, they don’t understand until it happens to them.

  55. Madison

    As a 24 year old female on the autism spectrum who graduated college, owns a house and has a full time job working for the the military while running an art business on the side thank you for this. I have had therapists when I was younger try to make me fit in but it was only when I decided that nothing was “wrong” with me that I began to flourish. I am open with the fact that I am on the autism spectrum, yes I am different but I am unique. And I am proud of that. To whoever is reading this never make the mistake in thinking your child is damaged. Ever heard the saying that people who behave rarely make history?

    • CaptainQuirk

      Thanks for the comment, and the important message. 🙂 Really glad you’ve found your place in the world and are now flourishing!

  56. Sharon

    Anyone who would use such blatantly ableist language is an ignorant bigot. Don’t ever dismiss disability. It could happen to you. Think about that before you use such offensive words. It’s no different to making racist, sexist or homophobic comments.

  57. What’s the point of talking about autism? | Janepedia

    […] I’m not saying there is a problem with how autistics personally choose to identify. My problem lies in using specific terminology to avoid pissing off large crowds and running into “autism moms”, who are not autistic themselves but wear “autism” like it’s soccer and they’re desperately trying to cheer their kid on to make a goal when the kid is better at playing defense, but they’re having to play goalie just to ward off all the negative talk and pretend like they’re not hearing it. […]

  58. Jon

    I am not sure if this counts, but I made myself a social acceptability mask, if I ever dropped my act as a normal person, or my act wasn’t good enough, my parents would shout at me, tell me off or get all hurt. And I only ever got affection when my pretending to be normal went well. I am pretty sure I’m wrong, but sometimes I think they never loved me, only the socially acceptable person I was pretending to be. Found out I was on the spectrum as an adult, definitely not telling my parents though

  59. Alec Heesacker

    Microsoft Does Not Prepare My Windows 10 Laptop For My Aspergers Syndrome. I Get This
    Warning Red Alert Sound Effect When I Can’t Edit The MotoGP URT 3 Config File As To Add
    The Cheat Codes. Need Account Permission To Edit My MotoGP URT 3 Notepad File. Star
    Trek Red Alert Sound Effect Goes Off. Ugh! Zip Up Windows!!! Mental Stress Building Up.

  60. Anonymous

    Self diagnosed adult.

    If your adult child is depressed, and you have terminal cancer, and they refuse to “see a doctor” about their depression, DO NOT, ask your doctor if it is “okay” to call the cops to force them to go see a doctor, hoping they will lock you up for a week or two…or more. Almost dying from side effects of medication in the past, is not something you want to repeat. You hate doctors for good reason.

    This is not okay, especially when you hear that they use electroshock therapy at the local hospital. To have a mother or relative, or family member, think they have the right to control you, and what happens to you is unacceptable. You may think your intentions are pure, the others, I assure you, are not.

    Having 3 cop cars and 6 cops at your house, while your mother pretends it’s just one person outside your bedroom door, not a good idea, we will NOT be thanking you for it. One day. In the future. Ever.

    Some things ARE unforgivable.

    The PTSD is not worth it. If you can’t trust your own mother, you can’t trust anyone. To be betrayed by a parent is the worst, especially since they tend to claim they know you the best and what’s best for you.

    I told the hospital I didn’t want to go home, and I never wanted to see my mother ever again. They said I had no choice, there was no where for me to go.

    There was no one to call.

    That’s what happens when you have no friends.

    Then it gets worse.

    This is what you started, thinking that if you want to control us, call the cops or threaten to call the cops. Letting others do it too. Agoraphobia, panic attacks, and PTSD won’t be going away any time soon.

    Letting another family member repeat the process some months later, thinking it’ll be better this time, also not good. Then 3 days later still, alone in the house, at night, having 7 cops show up, this time family member who removed my mother to their place, tells them that I kicked my poor dying mother out of the house, and i get berated. The cops not only believe, but then threaten me with jail if I ever try to contact anyone in the family.

    I have no friends, no one to defend me.

    Family member, tries to claim one of the neighbours called saying I couldn’t look after myself, and that I should be removed from the house. This means they could sell the house, before my mother died, and I’d have no place to live, because they don’t have group homes for people like me where I live.

    Expected me to believe the lie.

    When I finally convince my mother, and showed her the bank records proving the money is gone, she tells the doctors her money has been stolen. The family member tells the doctor that my mother is psychotic, and that I’m psychotic too. Since my mother is old, I guess they assume violent dementia (we watched hours of news every day to keep her brain active, she watched daily mass, and multiple rosaries) but she was put on antipsychotic medicine, which now made her look like she had dementia, took months to get her home, and not until the visiting nurse asked why she was on an antipsychotic did she get off of it, and get back to her old self. Later this same family member said in court they had no idea the money had been taken, and that they were “sorry”.

    Because of this, the people you thought might be there for me when you die, won’t be (there’s nothing left to steal, and no money in the estate).

    You sold the car for $200 dollars, rather than repair it. With no money to buy or run a car, I have to depend on someone else to take me shoping. Then they want me to write a Will leaving everything to them, yes really. Repeatedly. Then they got upset, telling me, “then I guess you don’t care about me, I’m your friend, I take you shopping”. Major meltdown. So they stopped asking. But then later, they asked, “when you die, how do you want to be buried”, and could you put it in writing. Really. I feel like I’m being manipulated, but if I say it, they will be offended, because I’m sure they don’t think that they are, and I have no one else to talk to about it.

    Family member is able to convince, lawyer, that I’m too mentally incompetent, to own the house, so it should be taken away from me, and that I might “steal” my own inheritance from the bank, so they need to remove it. My mother had me as power of attorney and had told them she wanted me to have right of survivorship on all bank assets, but same banks turned over my inheritance to family member, more than 3 years “before” my mother died, none of them called me, either about the change of POA or about removing the money or closing bank accounts. Changing the power of attorney the same day as removing money from two banks, is not a red flag to them, even though they were told she was dying (if it’s not in the account when she dies, I don’t get it). What’s not to understand.

    Lawyer who didn’t think I needed my own lawyer, remembered that as I had been to his office before, that it was my fault, he never talked to me. Later when my mother goes to his office, the lawyer tells her the house went to the family member, because I was mentally incompetent, mother doesn’t defend me, but luckily her friend did, so lawyer suddenly claims he had never met me, so had no idea he was being lied to. Mother aware lawyer is lying to her, but won’t speak up for me.

    Later same family member, who claimed I was too mentally incompetent to be trusted with money or owning my own home, then tells the lawyer I have no disability, (implying I’m faking it) (I am on disability for the Agoraphobia) and even that I’m a criminal making so much money, (from home), that I have no need of an inheritance.

    Lawyer thinks I’m trying to cheat my family member out of a few thousand, but not that I’ve been cheated and defrauded out of a quarter million dollar estate, and that’s before my mother was even dead. He even believes the family member, claiming I’m the one intimidating my mother, and even though I used my disability money to pay the bills, the lawyer tries to get my mother to believe the family member was paying. The bank records show the family member was stealing the disability money I had the bank put into the account to pay the bills ever month.

    Things did not work out, in the end, never got the money back. First lawyer wouldn’t help get the money back, saying it was a conflict of interest as he would have to testify in court. But told my mother this family member would just declare bankruptcy, and that these things happen when Wills are unevenly divided and surely she didn’t want to send anyone to jail.

    Second lawyer only too happy to take her pension money (money she could have left me) Too poor to afford a lawyer now.

    I’m the only one to get threatened with jail, not only by the police but by relatives who called, and then threatening to call the cops again if I didn’t do what they said.

    I also don’t understand when you decide to “forgive them” for what they did (not wanting them to go to jail for up to 14 years). Meaning that you rather I suffer for their crime.

    I also don’t understand when on your death bed you lie, and say “don’t worry money is coming”. Did you hope I’d believe the lie, because after a couple of years, and nothing but poverty, I am, going to figure it out.

    I understand people lying to a dying person, hoping that they’ll die peacefully, wanting them to think everything was going to be okay. Having people tell her I’d be just fine on disability, then a couple years later, I’m short nearly $100 a month because taxes, insurance and fuel go up, but I only got an extra $10 to cover the cost, so the rest comes out of the rest of the money I was suppose to get. I don’t have cable TV, and can only afford dial up Internet speed, but they still managed to raise the price in a couple of years.

    Since I couldn’t feel love from her, I always said she couldn’t have loved me.

    Didn’t expect her to die, proving it.

  61. Pamela

    I’m the full time stepmother (his birth mother doesn’t want to be bothered raising him) to a 14 high functioning autistic young man. Nobody ever bothered having him diagnosed until I came into the picture and had all the appropriate testing done. Everyone knew he was “different” and for years his grandmother spoiled him, treated him as though he was unable to do anything for himself, let him get away with things none of the other grandchildren in the family did. The result was a very spoiled child who thought everyone was there to cater to his every whim. After 4 years of working with him I’m proud to say he has matured and is capable of anything any other teenager is. Sometimes it’s not autism that’s the problem it’s the people who want to coddle and treat these bright wonderful kids like they are incapable thereby reducing their chances to growing into an independent adult! STOP THE CODDLING AND EXPECT THEM TO BE ALL THEY CAN BE!

  62. CF

    As a Puerto Rican Jew, I completely identify with the issues addressed here. I, too, was treated like a p.o.s. as a child, simply because I wasn’t either Irish-Catholic or Italian-Catholic like everybody else in the neighborhood. In fact, my entire family was badly treated. My mom was told to “go back to Banana Country” (by a clergyperson) and someone (a cop who lived down the street) spray-painted swastikas all over my dad’s car. Oh, isn’t life FUN for those who are different!!!!!!🙄

  63. Sharon

    No, life isn’t “fun” for those who are different. But that is the sort of thing I would say, sarcastically. Being bullied for being different has given me a cynical view of the world and put me on the defensive. I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself because I found out a long time ago that no one else will.


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