Health Parenting Special Needs

Dear Know-it-All Mom: Yes, My Child Actually is Autistic

Hearing that your child has special needs is hard enough. We don't need the Judgment Brigade to bring their naysaying to the party as well.

By Melissa Lilly of The Stay-at-Home Life

Since I told you my child is special needs, you’ve turned into Professor Sanctimommy McKnowItAll. While you pretend to be supportive, say you know all about and have experience with autism, and claim you’re not judging, your backhanded, know-it-all comments have given you away. Obviously, you don’t really understand that, like children, not all special needs are exactly the same. Especially when it comes to autism spectrum disorder.

Sorry, not sorry that you don’t understand symptoms aren’t obvious 24/7/365 and that there are are some good hours or days among the bad. (Even though you claim to know all about ASD.) Kids don’t have to constantly be raging terrors to have issues. It’s a bigger picture kind of thing here, and you’re not seeing the bigger picture. I also am under no obligation to give you all the details so you can (maybe) see that bigger picture. It is none of your damn business.

You may not see what the professionals and we, as her parents, see. That doesn’t make you right. It means you aren’t an expert or someone who knows what to look for. Unless you’re around my child as often as I am or have a qualifying degree, stuff it.

When it comes to Facebook, I’m allowed to post when my child does well and makes some progress. Contrary to what you seem to think, you can say good things about your child even when you’re struggling to accept a difficult diagnosis. I refuse to bash my child publicly or ignore her existence on social media. What I do post on Facebook doesn’t give you the right to claim I’m lying about the diagnosis.

It takes all my inner strength and resolve to not ream you a new one every time you argue with me, trying to claim that my child is fine, that all kids do what she does, or –even worse– that she’s just a brat. Let’s not even go there with your comments about it not being my child at all, but rather just me being a bad mom who doesn’t want to face up to that fact. That just would not end well for you.

Yes, my child got a diagnosis fast. No, that doesn’t mean that the doctors are wrong/not good enough/I’m lying/whatever crap you come up with. It means that my child’s issues were just. that. obvious. to someone who knows what the heck they’re talking about.

By the way, my getting help doesn’t make me a bad mother, either. I want my child to have all the help she can get in order to have the happiest, best life she possibly can. That’s so nice that another mom you know with a special needs kid never got help or even considered it. It’s her choice. I’m sure she’s doing what she thinks is best. So am I.

Finding out my child has special needs isn’t something you should be congratulating me on. The diagnosis is a devastating thing to hear. Having an answer and knowing it’s not all in my head is wonderful. On the other hand, being told it’s all in my head and that I can just do XYZ to make her life better would be even more wonderful. Her issues aren’t going to go away. There’s no outgrowing it (yeah, you’re wrong on that count, too). Having a special needs child isn’t cool or fun. Knowing your child is struggling and will struggle throughout her life rips out your heart. Please don’t minimize that and act like this is something that I wanted as you accuse me of lying about it in the next breath.

By the way, lying about the diagnosis? Why would I do that? I could show you all the paperwork with the evaluation and diagnosis. Could, but I won’t. Because it’s none. of. your. business. My child’s medical records are private, not for you to gawk at.

Telling me, “Oh, it could be worse,” trivializes the struggle my family, especially my daughter, is going through and will continue to go through. The situation can always be worse,but that doesn’t mean our struggles aren’t real or important.

My child being diagnosed as special needs doesn’t make what you go through any less difficult. It doesn’t affect your life. Yet, after lacking any understanding and being totally unsupportive, you tell me, “I just can’t deal with it.” You just can’t deal with knowing my child is special needs? Well, I just can’t deal with your attitude. No parent should have to defend their child, themselves, or their child’s diagnosis.

At the end of the day, my child is still the same wonderful, amazing, awesome person she was before the diagnosis.

And for that, she’s got you beat in spades, Professor.


About Melissa Lilly

Melissa Lilly is a freelance writer and editor living in the Southern United States with her husband, two young children and three cats. She’s the author of The Stay-at-Home Life, a blog capturing all the aspects of motherhood, including the journey of having an autistic child, her own battle with weight loss, and all the fun recipes and activities she concocts. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.