Dear mom friends of typically developing children,
Our children are the same. Yours might be pretending to play with dolls while ours is lining up cars. Yours might go to ballet or soccer while ours goes to therapy. Yours might be in school while ours is in the hospital—again. Yours might be in the top percentage of standardized testing while ours is near the bottom.
But really, they are so similar. They all laugh and cry. They all have needs and wants. They all have passion and purpose.
Here’s what we want you to know . . .
Ask us what our children are interested in. Yes, they have interests too, and we can talk about them all day. In fact, some of our children have very special interests that they can talk about all day too.
Don’t shush your child when they ask about ours. If something seems different to you or your child, just ask us about it. It is OK to be curious and ask questions. We are probably eager to talk about it. And if we aren’t, we will let you know.
Respect that sometimes our child needs extra support, and also . . .
Presume competence from our children. Just because our child needs extra support, it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable.
Please don’t judge us. We aren’t giving our children tablets in restaurants because we are bad parents. We might be giving it to them because crowded places are very overwhelming, and devices can often help regulate them.
Please say hello and goodbye to our nonspeaking children.
They can hear you, and it is hurtful when you only say hello or goodbye to our speaking children.
Respect our clinical diagnosis. Every little boy isn’t “a little bit autistic.”
We need help. We probably won’t ask for it, but sometimes we need it. Bring us food. Offer to provide respite. Learn how a G-tube works or what to do in case of a seizure. Come alongside us, especially when you know we are having a particularly hard week.
Raise kind children. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for us. Check out children’s books from the library about neurodiversity and medical complexities.
Teach your children that everyone is a little bit different but just as valuable in this world.
Yes, our children might be different in some ways, but they are really the same in so many ways too. They are our babies, just like your children are yours.
Thank you for coming along for the journey.