What Parents Wish People Understood About Kids With Autism

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day (and month!), I asked the good people of MyAutismTeam—a social network of some 41,000 parents—to share the following question. Here’s what moms and dads had to say:

I wish people understood that children with autism…

“Just want to be accepted like everyone else.”—Rebecca W.

“Just because you know a child with autism doesn’t mean you know what autism is like for every child with it. There can be some similarities but they have different strengths, challenges, fears and requirements.”—Kathy R.

“Our kids cling to what makes them feel safe. Routine is key.”—Alicia K.

“My son is a child first. Please don’t ever refer to children as so-and-so’s ‘special needs kid.’ Start with his name first. Invite them to parties or a get-together once in a while. Be brave and show friendship. We will love you for the effort!”—Tonya C.

“Just because they process differently, or it takes a few more times for an explanation to sink in, they’re not stupid.”—Jill B.

“That they are not misbehaved kids. Their senses are different…. You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to tell someone off for staring when Shophia has an episode in public.”—Tiffany C.

“Their disability is not always physically obvious, but they have special needs just the same.”–Jennifer R.

“They don’t ‘suffer’ from autism. They suffer from people’s ignorance, hate, intolerance and judgment.”—Jada W.

“Be literal with them, they don’t understand hints.”—Teresa T.

“It is not contagious.”—Sandi B.

“Our children are not spoiled! We do things differently to accommodate their needs because that’s what works for them to be able to function!”—Maria R.

“I don’t want my son to be treated differently, I want him to be accepted like everyone else—with the understanding that he is a little slower than other kids his age. And he doesn’t understand sarcasm.”—Rande L.T.

“They are not stubborn, willful or oppositional. They lack coping skills and are anxious, fearful and afraid.”—Linda O.

“Staring, bullying and isolating someone with this condition is a sin! My Aspie told me he doesn’t feel like going out in public because he feels as though he’s in the way! Try swallowing that when your firstborn, most beautiful child says this to you!”—Toni H.

“They are smart and creative people with much to offer this world.”—Traci D.

“They have hopes and aspirations for a full, useful and independent life…and they can achieve it with community support and acceptance.”—Nancy J.

“They go to college too! So proud of my 21-year-old son who is getting A’s in Japanese and loving it!”—Kim R.

“My autistic grandson is not ‘retarded.’ I hate that word. He is a handsome, very intelligent boy. He just handles some things differently.”—Nancy M.

“Not all kids or adults are like Rain Man.”—Dannie M.

“My son’s condition is not caused by bad parenting.”—Lisa A.

“They are capable of falling in love and even getting married when they grow up.”—Anna V.

 ”My son is like everyone else in this world. He thrives on love, acceptance and understanding. If his peers would just open their minds they would see that he is as cool as they think they are.”—Trisha P.

“How much more capable than what you may realize. Don’t sell them short or count them out.”—Lisa C.

“They are a gift like any other child. And they are some of the strongest people in the world.”—Shayla A.

Image of Autism Awareness Day note via Shutterstock

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  1. by Elizabeth

    On April 30, 2013 at 9:50 am

    If you’re going to Disneyland/world get a doctors letter with childs diagnosis because you can take it to Guest Relations and get a special pass to cut the lines. My poor son had a major meltdown due to his sensory sensitivities while waiting in a very crowded long line and that was it for him- he just wanted to go “home” to the hotel and we only had an hour at Disney. I wish we would have known this before going because I think he would have had a much better experience. We also got horrible looks as he melted down and was crying and hitting and saying he “hated” us. This is all part of his condition and I wish parents would be more understanding and give other parents the benefit of the doubt.