Counterpoint time. The subject is denial. Not a week goes by wherein I don’t hear from someone who thinks a parent or parents are in denial about a child’s autism. Indeed, some are. And indeed, some are not. What rarely gets voiced is the parent’s reaction to that loaded allegation. The following is a composite response from a number of families. Some of you may not like it. But it deserves some thought. Because we’re not in denial about denial, are we?
To those who think we’re in denial about whether our child has autism, please back the &*#! off. If you have solid facts about our child, give them to us, without the snap-out-of-it lecture. If they are facts, they’ll speak for themselves. Then admit that you don’t have all the facts. You’re not in our home after the sun goes down, are you? You may think you know everything we’ve already tried or not tried, but you don’t. And we’re the ones who have to make sense of why our child behaves differently with you than he does with us. What? You didn’t know that? Okay then.
We have a lot of information, opinions and suggestions, many uninvited, coming at us from all directions. What looks like denial to you is us trying to sort out an overpowering amount of facts and feelings. Yes, there’s some grief involved, but we understand this is a process. Do you? Autism seems to have a thousand facets, all of them new to us. We want to take the time to understand enough about our child, ourselves, and our options to make the best decisions we can for our child, our family, and for our living situation.
That we choose not to share this very raw process with you is not denial. Could you possibly spend some time thinking about why we choose not to share? Could you possibly just say, “I’m concerned and would like to help if I can. What do you most need?” Could you shelve your judgmental attitude, you know-it-all tone, your do something!/do anything! pressuring? None of this helps us, therefore it doesn’t help our child.
We know your motivation is love. So is ours. No one’s in denial about that. Please know that part of our grief process is that you don’t seem to want to work with us unless we do it your way. That you don’t seem to realize that taking two steps back could be a running to start to a big leap forward.
© 2016 Ellen Notbohm