ANSWERING QUESTIONS

answering questions autismDEALING WITH UNAVOIDABLE AND CHALLENGING AUTISM QUESTIONS

Knowing that autism has been around for ages, you might get the idea that a good majority of the people around you has enough insight on autism, as to what this disorder is all about. However, this is certainly not the case, given the amount of misinformation that one can fall victim into nowadays. False medical reports and claims can easily spread like wildfire with the help of the internet. Those who may know the term can have very shallow understanding of it, or worse, get the wrong perceptions about autism spectrum disorder. If you have a family member, a close friend, or relative that has autism, there may come a time when people would start asking you questions about the person’s condition, and nature of the disorder. These questions would come in different scope and intent and you may be caught off guard if you aren’t prepared enough in answering them. Some questions may show utmost concern, while a few others, though will mean well, can end up giving some weird and offensive feeling. Although you may get offended by some of these, you should remember that it isn’t right to immediately confront the person asking, especially if they do not intend to hurt you or put you in an awkward situation. Looking for the perfect response is a much better solution to handle the situation.

False medical reports and claims can easily spread like wildfire with the help of the internet. Those who may know the term can have very shallow understanding of it, or worse, get the wrong perceptions about autism spectrum disorder. If you have a family member, a close friend, or relative that has autism, there may come a time when people would start asking you questions about the person’s condition, and nature of the disorder. These questions would come in different scope and intent and you may be caught off guard if you aren’t prepared enough in answering them. Some questions may show utmost concern, while a few others, though will mean well, can end up giving some weird and offensive feeling. Although you may get offended by some of these, you should remember that it isn’t right to immediately confront the person asking, especially if they do not intend to hurt you or put you in an awkward situation. Looking for the perfect response is a much better solution to handle the situation.

“Can my child contract Autism Spectrum Disorder by being around with your child?”

Perhaps one of the oldest and most prevalent myths about autism is the claim that it can spread to other people who spend time around an autistic person. Because some people see autism as a contagious disease, they believe that it can spread to others like the flu or the common cold. This type of question reflects a perception that can pose a serious threat to your child’s social life if people are not made aware of the true nature of autism – that it is not a contagious disease and those who play or hang around autistic persons are far from the risk of acquiring it. Knowing that other parents are preventing their child from playing with your kid because of this mentality can hurt, but a simple explanation can easily change everything if you just try.

“If your child has autism, does that mean you’re a parent of a genius?”

While this is much better to hear than any other question about autism, it still doesn’t show adequate knowledge about the disorder. You need to explain to others that being a spectrum disorder, autism can manifest a wide set of symptoms on the child, and while being highly intelligent is one of them, part of the population of autistic individuals also suffer from speech challenges, social unresponsiveness, and intellectual incapacities. If your child is indeed one of those who fall under the high-functioning end of the spectrum and is highly intelligent, it may seem appropriate to take the question as a compliment. However, if your child is somehow intellectually challenged, there is no reason to be over reactive about it. A calm and objective explanation about your child’s condition would suffice if the one asking has good intentions.

“Is it hard to raise an autistic child?”

This is a double-edged question, and perhaps one of the hardest one to answer for parents with an autistic child. That is because responding with a “no” would somehow give the idea that you are loving the child’s condition as if you are indifferent and couldn’t care less about your child’s future which is not true. Saying “yes” might be perceived as an outburst of complaint from a parent who only sees their child as nothing but a burden to their life. What a wise parent of an autistic child would rather say is “it’s both a yes and a no”, with a follow-up explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of having an autistic child. You must also point out that you love your child for who they are, and being autistic doesn’t mean you’ll love less than what you can for a normal child. Lastly, put emphasis on the fact that you see autism as both a challenge and opportunity to prove to your child and yourself that you are the best parent one could ever wish for, and to even emerge as a better person out of it.

“Will your child make it through college by living on their own away from home?”

This can easily appear as an insulting kind of question to ask, knowing that the person asking somehow undermines the capabilities and potential of autistic people. However, you still can’t deny that they got a point, especially if you factor out their own personal experiences with autistic individuals, including those being shown on TV and other media outlets. Of course, it wouldn’t be right to just expressly say that you’re very sure about your child’s successful college education if that would still have to happen in a distant future. What you can say is that you can’t guarantee anything, but you will do your best as a parent to see to it that your child’s special needs are met in this present time, that would help equip the child with the necessary training and development to pursue a college degree and graduate successfully.

“Is your autistic child capable of falling in love and tying the knot with someone?”

A future-focused question such as this one is also not easy to answer, given the uncertainty of the unforeseen. However, if your child has high-functioning autism, and has overcome the symptoms that are observed from childhood, there is a much better chance of finding a suitable partner and settling down in the future. If you are truly uncertain, however, you can tell the person asking that there are a dozen cases of autistic people who are now happily married and living their life as parents so who knows, maybe in the future, your child may also follow that same path as well.