Sunday, January 1, 2012

Autism Advice: When Saying Nothing Is Better Than Saying Anything at All

This Modified Life is a column in The Orange County Register by Jo Ashline for and about the families in Orange County living with special needs. Jo is a freelance writer and married mother of two. If you have a question for Jo or a suggestion for a topic, email her at ashline02@sbcglobal.net.

It begins the minute you announce you’re going to have a baby; well-meaning friends and family bombard you with advice, claiming to have the best to offer in everything from heartburn cures to breastfeeding techniques. Your mother-in-law insists you don’t lift anything heavier than 6 oz and your sister, who’s had 3 natural births in the last three years rallies against the evils of the epidural. It’s a free for all at your expense and even though you don’t technically have morning sickness, you find yourself pretty nauseous anytime someone opens their mouth to bestow yet another tidbit of
Of course, what you don’t realize then is that this was just the beginning, because once the baby arrives, the advice multiplies and you can barely approach your child without someone getting in the way to tell you how to do it “better.”
For the most part, parents are able to if not embrace this constant barrage of opinions and suggestions, at least accept it as a part of the parenting journey. While there’s no doubt that unsolicited advice about how to raise your child is nothing short of annoying, it’s also inevitable that folks tend to stick their noses where they don’t belong where children are concerned. But what happens when the child in question has autism and the person giving their opinions or advice has zero experience dealing with the unpredictable and often frightening nature of raising such a child? Does the playing field change? Is the advice less tolerable, the comments seemingly crueler, the lack of perspective so blaring it leaves you feeling sick to your stomach with resentment and loneliness?

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