Tag Archives | society

If you can’t say something nice…

I know, my mom was the only mom to ever use that expression, right?  No?

I think it’s one of, if not the, first lesson most of us can remember having learned… because right around the time we start retaining memories for later is about the same time that we learn to just say what ever is on our mind.

Before kids learn to lie, they learn to be honest… brutally honest. If your ass looks fat in those jeans, your little one will tell you about it.

I bet my mom never imagined it would be like this

So now I’m a grown up, I have children of my own and I get to sling the old cliché’d lessons around too… but it’s not the same for me. As the parent of an autistic child, I have a better chance of teaching this lesson to my 3 year old than I do my 6 year old son with Autism.

Autism is classified as a social impairment and a lack of fundamental understandings in communication… more to the point, autistics have a hard time maintaining friendships, relationships and even simple conversations.

One of the reasons for this is that people in society aren’t very good at accepting brutal honesty. To most people, an insult is an insult… whether it’s true or not. If you call an ugly person ugly… you’re insulting them.

Why? Because of generations and generations of people saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Would we still take offense to brutal honesty if people didn’t say that? Probably. Still though, when you think about it… it’s actually rather silly.

Essentially people have become so insecure that hearing a negative, even when true, is an insult. And so we teach people not to say anything unless they have something nice to say.

Autism – “don’t say anything at all”

Now I’m presented with two problems that my own mother never had to deal with…

  1. People, especially children, with Autism are already less likely to say anything at all. Either from being non-verbal to begin with or being socially unable, either via anxiety or fear or what have you. So telling an autistic child not to say anything at all becomes very counter productive.
  2. People, again, especially children, with Autism are very much inclined to say what they believe to be true, whether nice or not. Lacking social aptitude as well as having a lack of understanding how and what other people think, they don’t tend to take into consideration how what they say will affect others.

So not only does this expression discourage my son from speaking but it also puts a very heavy weight on him as he will either never know, or never know with any certainty, if what he is about to say is something nice or not.

First, I encourage him to tell the truth and not lie… then I have to tell him not to tell the truth when it’s not nice. This is a lot for any child to deal with, so how well is it going to be taken by a child that is unable to comprehend what others may or may not be thinking.

What to do?

if you dont have anything nice to sayWell, I can’t really go around society convincing people to just be more secure with themselves and accept a little honest criticism sometimes… I’m pretty sure even I can’t live up to that expectation all the time…. although it is a nice thought.

Do I tell my son the same old cliché in hopes that he can figure it out and make the most of it? Do I hope that it doesn’t only complicate matters for him?

Ultimately, this comes down to the age old debate that sometimes still causes arguments among parents of autistic children… do I help my child to conform and be a part of society or do I allow him to be his own person, which in all likelihood will make him a better person but also cause a lot of problems for him down the road?

The problem is, there is no one right or wrong answer and certainly not an easy one.

The best that I can do, for me, I think, is to convey the message but abandon the cliché. It’s true, I need for him to understand when to speak up and when not to, to consider the thoughts and feelings of others but it’s also true that I can’t put the same kinds of expectations on him that my mother put on me.

In other words, I can’t just cliché him to death and expect him to get it.

In the television show Parenthood, Max (child with Autism) tells a former alcoholic that he shouldn’t go to a party because he’s an alcoholic… Max’s sister is quick to respond, as though Max shouldn’t be rude, but the former alcoholic says “it’s ok, he’s just looking out for me. I should be as honest with myself as he is.” and realizes that Max is right.

A part of me never wants to squash that in my son. There’s something there to be admired.

It’s a delicate balance I think… not an all or nothing system. Which just makes it all that much more difficult. I don’t want my son to never speak up for fear of not being nice but I also don’t want him unintentionally offending everyone he meets.

Unfortunately, you won’t get any solid answers from me on this one… this is a life long lesson that even the best of us sometimes still wrong.

Like many things, this is going to be a process… one that will hopefully help him to understand society and his place in it as well as to help me learn some new things along the way as well.

Comments { 2 }

Mummy Why Do People Ignore Me ?

I was asked this question last night by my 4-year-old daughter!!!! Now I think in today’s society this is a sad state of affairs that a 4-year-old has picked up the fact that people are ignoring her. More worrying she seems to understand that they are ignoring her.

I know I have talked about this before but this is really something that needs to be addressed and dealt with.You see it’s not just my daughter that people ignore, in fact this is happening all over the country. All kids that are different get ignored and over looked but why??????, why ????? does this continue to happen …..

Whats the matter? Don’t people realize these children have feelings? Of course they do they are even more sensitive than a “normal” child at times ,because in their world everyone is happy and they get upset if everyone is not happy. Do you know it really upsets me when these people ignore these special angels, more so when it my own children they are ignoring. There is nothing I can do everyone has a right to their opinion but then every child has the right to be treated equally. So why don’t people get to know these special angels and see how special they really are. I know a little boy who can’t talk but when he smiles and laughs his whole face lights up, its wonderful to see.

Here is an example of what I mean. All the kids were coming out of the class because it was home time, one of the parents actually walked away so she did not have to go past my daughter. I thought oh maybe she had to move for what ever reason. Well today my daughter was one of the first out, this same parent moved out-of-the-way as my daughter approached her. It wasn’t a subtle move it was a very clear I’m avoiding you. Talk about small mindedness.

So back to my question Why do people ignore children that are different. The answer is I don’t honestly know. All I can do is keep trying to raise awareness for these special angels. So if you are reading this blog feel free to tell people about it, RT on twitter or share on Facebook, the more people who know and understand these special angels . The more chance these angels have of making it in this world

Comments { 6 }