As parents of autistic children, we as a community seem to receive a good amount of unsolicited and unwanted parenting advice and opinions from family, friends and even strangers. Why these people seem to be under the impression that this is appropriate behavior or conversation, I do not know. If someone should ask my opinion about their neurotypical child I may give them my opinion – I may not, (especially since I do not have a neurotypical child to base my opinion on) but either way, I will most certainly not tell them that they are “doing it all wrong” or give an opinion in front of their child. As a general rule, if not asked I will keep my mouth shut. I do not understand why it always seems to be open season on us, our parenting skills and our children….
Dear Everyone At The Table:
Let’s just get this all over with now so I don’t have to listen to it in increments throughout the evening, shall we?
1. “Can’t he do that himself?”
Yes, he is perfectly capable of getting up and getting his own food, but I am closer and offered to do it for him. What about this could possibly concern you?
2. “Does he use that much salt at home?”
No, as a matter of fact he doesn’t use ANY salt at home. (See post) – I do not even buy salt as I don’t use it either. He and I together probably consume less salt than any single average person would. Someone along the way must have shown him that salt is used for something other than fairy dust so he does feel the need to use it when we go out to eat.
3. “Does he eat that much at home?”
No he doesn’t. Not even close. He would if I let him, but I don’t. Yes, he gets a little bit carried away when we are out, but one of his favorite things in life is going out to eat so what would be the fun in it if he doesn’t get to have what he likes?
4. “You should make him order a salad with his meal. Does he eat any vegetables?”
He eats a good amount of vegetables, probably more than you do. In his mind, salad and vegetables are not “out to eat” foods. (See answer #3) I don’t believe that I will have to rush him to the hospital for not having vegetables at this one meal. He eats a good amount of fruit too, but I am sure you will now point out how much sugar there is in fruit so I guess I may as well be giving him candy.
5. “Does he exercise? He looks like he could use some exercise”
He walks and goes to the Y at least 3 to 4 times a week. Not to mention the jumping and dancing he does quite continuously when he is at home. He also runs cross country in the fall and takes Zumba every time the class is offered.
6. “He’s put on a lot of weight. You really need to watch what he eats.”
He is on seizure medication – this is one side effect of said medication. I watch what he eats every day (see answer #3).
He exercises daily (see answer #5)
So with all of that being said; Would it be possible to reserve this and any further conversation about his weight or eating habits for a time when he is, you know, not sitting right here. My preference would be at a time when I am not here either.
If you should have any other comments or unsolicited opinions on any subject regarding my child, please reserve them for that same time.
While I am not or have ever been in the habit of commenting on everyone at this table’s parenting skills, I do have a list in my head going way back over the years that I can access at a moments notice. I am not afraid to use it…
(It’s a pretty extensive list)