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Special Needs Parenting: The Perception of Honesty

Zowie Kaye by Zowie Kaye Additional Needs

Zowie Kaye

Zowie Kaye

My Big Fat Greek Family – we love our food and love each other even more. We're a like liquorice allsorts, all a bit different. I’m a full time wor...

When we were finally called through my son asked the Doctor, “Excuse me Doctor, what took you so long? I don’t like waiting.” She smiled and made small talk about this before we continued.

It made me think would she have been as pleasant if I would have asked the same question?

I have tried to list a few of the things (including what the little voice in my head is screaming at me to say in response), that have been said to me about my son's autism by people who have typical children or no children at all.

From groups that I am a member of I know that these comments are common to other mums also:

'It could be so much worse!' Oh, could it? – Well that’s just swell. Tell that to my heart.

'He doesn’t look autistic/like there is something wrong!' Oh why; what does autistic look like, would you prefer something more visible?

'He just needs a good hiding!' Oh come here and let me beat the ignorance out of you while I’m at it then!

Now the above I’m sure are people’s honest perceptions/feelings of my son. These used to hurt me and I think that was part of my own feelings towards the diagnosis.

I can now appreciate these types of comments in the way they are delivered; I don’t think are maliciously intended.

Apart from that last one – no excuse for that comment! Yes that hurts.

Below are some other things that my son has said to others:

'Can you please just stop talking? You’re really annoying me.'

'Excuse me Doctor why are you talking so much?'

'What’s wrong with your hand?' (to a person with a club hand)

'I LOVE your pyjamas.' (to someone wearing a tracksuit)

'You are so cruel for not helping me put my socks on.' (To his TA after PE in school)

Now the above are my sons own honest perceptions/feelings of situations. I know he did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings; he does not have a malicious bone in his body.

He had something to say and I suppose a wonderfully innocent part of his condition is that he has that freedom to say just exactly what he wants.

Here are some things that I know for a fact that I have wanted to say throughout my adult life;

but the world around me tells me that in fact I can’t, that even though it’s my honest perception it’s not acceptable to be this honest and quite frankly - its rude.

'Could you please stop talking to me you are annoying me!'

'What colour were you trying to dye your hair? – That really didn’t go too well!'

'If you want to lose weight just stop eating!'

They say that Honesty is the best policy but all of the above remarks would only be acceptable though if I had a label/disability; then I would be excused for this behaviour.

The perception of honesty is in fact discrimination; if I have a medical reason to speak my mind then that’s fine but if not then it’s not OK, society says that as a, “normal”, person I should know and act better. It sucks being a grown up!

So I know that when my son tells me that he loves me to Jupiter, or that I have a big belly or that he doesn’t want to be visiting friends anymore and wants to go now - that this is the 100% truth.

It just makes me sad that other people’s perception of this honestly makes me try to teach him to tone it down and that in fact I respond by saying, 'You can’t say that baby, its rude!'


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