I don’t expect everyone to be knowledgeable about autism if they don’t have someone autistic in their life, but – Please, please, please, if someone says to you, “My child has Autism,” don’t respond with one of these comments. I have heard every one of them at one time or another.

In the beginning, because my upbringing dictated that I be polite, I would respond with a tolerant smile, nod a little, and escape the conversation as soon as possible. I don’t do this anymore. The new me, who no longer has the patience for this sort of thing and knows being polite, perpetuates ignorance, now proudly gives the answers I’ve dropped here.

What, like Rainman?

No, not like Rainman. Rainman isn’t the only damn autistic person on earth.

People living with autism are no more like Rainman than you are like his brother, Charlie Babbit. Which is a pity because if you looked like Tom Cruise, had his bank balance, and were less ignorant, then maybe, just maybe I could put up with your rampant stupidity.

But you not, so I can’t.

Now bugger off and find someone else to wash in your particular brand of stupid.

Does he have any special powers?

No, he doesn’t have any ‘special powers’ that we have discovered yet.

But he is still very young, so his laser eyes or his telekinesis may still develop. In the meantime, we’re teaching him how to evolve a special invisible shield to protect himself from ignorance. Could you come round to our house and talk garbage so he can practice, please?

He doesn’t look autistic

It’s often difficult to tell when someone is different.

For example, I appear to be ‘normal,’ but I’m actually the kind of crazy who will rip your arms off and beat you to death with the soggy ends if you say or do anything to hurt or upset my child.

You do not look ignorant, rude, thoughtless, and condescending, yet the words tumbling from your mouth suggest otherwise. You really can’t tell just by looking at someone, who they are and how they think can you?

Oh I have a friend/cousin/mailman with a kid with autism

Really? How interesting.

Now you instantly know everything there is to know about life with autism.

I’m so looking forward to your in-depth explanation of how to live in a world that doesn’t understand you from your uninformed third-party perspective.

That’s the trendy thing to have these days isn’t it – Like the new ADHD

Well – you caught me.

I expect it’s the faded jeans and the tee-shirt that’s stained with the drink kiddo spilled all down the front that gave me away as a trend follower. I’m hoping the trend will last because I feel I’m really rocking this “no makeup, no sleep in days; what’s a hot meal like?” look.

In fact, you know what?

It is so trendy I’ve had a second child diagnosed as autistic and myself, and my husband also. It was easy.

You just go to an incredibly well-qualified doctor who has built their life around the integrity of their professional knowledge and say, “Hey doc, throw us all an ASD diagnosis, would you?” and they’ll say, “Yes, of course. Here, have an alphabet soup of other diagnoses as well. I’m offering a special deal this week.”

I’m sure they’ll find a cure for it


My child has a brain that works in a particular way, not an illness.

He doesn’t need to be cured or fixed because he’s not sick or broken, unlike much of our world.

*Stares intently at the person speaking until they become extremely uncomfortable and suddenly remember something very important they have to do as far away from me as possible.*

But he can’t be autistic, he speaks

Quick – tell the entire medical establishment you’ve discovered the definitive diagnostic tool for autism.

Just one question “Does he speak?” if the answer’s no he’s autistic and if the answer’s yes he’s not.

Hallelujah, now perhaps you can work on early diagnostic tests for cancer too.

I thought they all rocked back and forth, flapped their hands, and shouted & stuff

I thought you were a human being of average intelligence, average education, and an ability not to be jaw-droppingly offensive, ignorant and insulting.

I guess we were both very very wrong.

Oh I’m so sorry, what a shame


We have a beautiful son who is the light of our lives, and because he will always need full-time care, he will keep that light shining in our lives forever.

You, dear lady, are an old bat who I would like to slap around the face with a big bag of your patronizing, syrupy ill-placed pity.

However, I fear there is no container big enough close by, so today I will allow you to escape.

Isn’t that just an excuse for bad behavior? I wouldn’t let him get away with that. With more discipline, he’d soon behave himself

So not only are you judging my son from a position of ignorance but you are making assumptions about my parenting abilities too.

Being such a bad parent, I’m probably lucky only two of my five children are autistic.

I’ll just go over there and shout at him a bit, maybe give him a timeout & remove some privileges. Now that you have been kind enough to point out my error, I’m sure that traditional discipline methods will work wonders for my child with autism.

How You Should Respond

So, how should you respond? Try questions like:

  • I don’t know much about autism, do you have time to tell me a little bit about it?
  • Is there anything I should or shouldn’t do to make “insert name of autistic person” more comfortable?

Beyond that just listen, and let the other person lead the conversation.

Unless, of course, you’re speaking with me. Let me lead the conversation and you never know where you’ll end up.


  1. I have heard all of these comments and more. Often is What will happen to him when you die.

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