September 24, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss: So Shut It

I haven't had a good rant in a while, so there's a little build-up here. For the record, my rants do not include concrete facts, statistics or any take-away value really, just my little ol' opinion.

A couple of weeks ago, at a BBQ with some friends; the conversation turned to my son of four, with Autism, and how amazing he was doing. Thank you, he is doing amazing, by the way. People remarked how you couldn't even notice he had Autism. I could rant on that alone, don't say that people! Autism has no face, and did he look like he had Autism before? Just wondering what Autism may look like? Seriously.

One very nice girl at the BBQ who is a parent by the way, all of sudden says this:

"I know lady that has four kids with Autism! Wouldn't you think after the 2nd or 3rd, you would just stop?"
For once in my life, I was silenced. This friends did not sit well with me. Pretty sure at this point I was doing deep breathing exercises. Many thoughts swirled through my mind. Most times, I'm a thinker before a speaker, which just makes everyone think I'm mad at them because I'm taking in the conversation without blurting out the first asinine thing that comes to mind. Although 7/10 times I will say something totally inappropriate anyway, so I guess it all just cancels itself out. I don't like to be combative unless it's necessary, and give people the benefit of the doubt, unless I have reason to doubt you that is. Let me just say, I'm very trusting, but once I have reason to doubt you, it will probably take close to a lifetime to remedy that.

On with it...I decided since I didn't know this girl too well, I was going to let it go...for now. I'm sure she did not mean this to hurt, it was sheerly out of her own ignorance and selfishness, and her knowing deep down the sacrifice and determination it takes to raise a child with special needs, and how she may does not possess those abilities. Ahem. Seven out of ten I said.

So I did mention that statistically, considering the same genetic, biological and environmental markers were all the same, the chances of having a second child on the Spectrum was about 50%. Then I walked away and joined conversation elsewhere.

I let it go for that night, but it has obviously bothered me more than I thought it did. That comment has been eating away at me for weeks. I tried not to take it personally, but when my child indeed has Autism, how can I not? So I'll rant here, and then let it go; and perhaps forward this post to her; although I'll probably just write her a nice, less snarky e-mail.
To each his own. Before my son's diagnosis, I did want more children. Diagnosis put the brakes on that {thank goodness, because 2 months later I was separated}. Not because I didn't want another child with Autism, but I was in deep, dark, uncharted waters. I had no idea what life with Autism looked like, much less what Autism even was! Wasn't sure which way was up or down at that point, and I prefer to take life's challenges one at a time and not in a clumping type fashion. Wish I had a little more control over that....

But who is better equipped to raise another child on the Spectrum, than parents that have already faced the same hurdles?

Is life with Autism that bad? No! They live happy fulfilling lives, just like typical kids. In fact they make the world a better place, without people with Autism, like Einstein, Temple Grandin, Vincent Van Gogh and Andrew Jackson; our world would look very different.

Special Needs Children are called "special" not as a label, but in my view because they show you miracles every day, they make you appreciate every milestone, good or bad; you take so much less for granted. Life is more beautiful with them in it. I'm going to go blessing over burden. You really have no choice but to slow down and enjoy the ride.  Would I have more children knowing there is a great chance that they might have Autism?  Without a second thought.  That kid has taught me more in his four years, then my 30 something-something thus far.  But I also understand  people's choice not to have more children, and applaud them for recognizing how much they can handle.
All you young kids out there listen up. When you decide to have kids, you always weigh how it will affect you financially, emotionally, how it will change your marriage, job, etc. All of that, IF you have a perfect child. The "normal" child with the Oshkosh overalls and mullet pictured on the front of the parenting book. But when making the decision to have a child you also must consider for more than a fleeting moment that they may not be "perfect" or "typical". Really what child is? They are all unique. Don't let this deter you, whatever cards you are dealt, you will find the strength to persevere, but the possibility of perfection is slim.
I have actually never felt more supported as a parent in my life. Kudos to the Autism support groups, parents and bloggers. A force to be reckoned with, mighty powerful and understanding. They will pull you through, I guarantee.

I've yet to find even ONE parent of a Special Needs Child that regrets having that child, and doesn't see it as a gift. But you know, I wouldn't think raising the next Einstein would be anything less than a challenge.
Friends, be mindful of your opinion.  This is my blog, so here I can give it freely, you may choose to read it or not.  That's why blogging rocks for opinionated types like myself.  But by saying, "this is only my opinion", does not excuse the hurt it may cause.  Be aware of your words and what you say around others, think of  how it might affect them, even if those words are not directed or intended for them, it can still affect them just the same. 

Now, I will go take my own advice. 

I've got tons of great Autism resources up on the home page, feel free to click or ask me a question directly.  I also realize this might be a hot topic and I welcome your feedback, even if you disagree; just be polite.


  1. I think you are a superhero for not knocking the snot out of that chick! & I love that you also used it here to enlighten folks...she could have just put it on her own blog but blurting it at the bbq was stinky. Thanks for sharing with us :)

  2. Awesome, Cari - well said. You are indeed an amazing parent and blessed Mom. I definitely look at the world differently through each of my kids' eyes - labeled "special" or not. With a sensory seeker, our speed is sometimes a little faster than I think I can handle, but God helps you learn & adapt & adjust ... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  3. Thanks for being a good mom, Cari. The world needs more people like you.

    How did you not roundhouse kick that crass mom in the boob? Solid restraint skills there, not sure I'd be able to bridle my tongue like that.

  4. I love your opinion. Be proud of yourself for not going off completely. Like you, sometimes I take things in before responding and then my hesitation holds me back from going ape-crazy...which I guess is a good thing.

    That being said, I am one of those moms that knows if we had another child with autism (making it 3!) I would likely end up in a rubber room somewhere. I knew that the level of stress would be too much and that's why my hubby and I decided to stop having children, even though it would have been fun to try for a girl!

    We are content with our choice, and now that things are settling down a bit and the boys are doing better than they were, I am able to do other meaningful things in our community. I feel that helping other families with special needs is an excellent use of my energy outside of my own home. It was the right choice for us.

    Now, if God intervenes and gives us a surprise, we'll be thrilled with the chance to do things differently. We would definitely be better prepared!

  5. People are dumb and I'm not sure why they don't think first. Although I am one of those people that randomly says asinine things. I love that you are able to educate us while entertaining us. Good job handling it intelligently and lady-like. I know it wasn't easy. I will remember this the next time I feel like spitting on someone for being stupid.

  6. Thanks everybody for your kind words. I think the most important thing my son has taught me is patience.

    People pass judgment without knowing or even trying to understand any back story. Just ask the lady on the bus with the boy and I while he was mid meltdown! She verbally made it quite apparent that I should've just spanked him and called it a day. I don't want to make anyone feel the way I felt on the bus that day.

    As hard as that experience on the bus was, it was a great lesson for me and how I treat others.

  7. This post stirred too many thoughts for a simple comment, so I ended up writing a whole post in response. See my latest post :-)

  8. Bravo mama! you rock. People say things without thinking all the time. Not sure how you held your tongue. Standing O from me to you!

  9. If I were you I would've punched that mom right in the face, without thinking twice! But you've got lots more class than I do :)

    It takes a special mom to raise a special kid. I've always had this unspoken admiration for moms like you, really. More than that, you are raising your kids alone, so that makes you a double superhero- in a sexy cardigan :)

  10. @Gretchen- Can I just tell you how happy that makes me?! I LOVE that you had to write an entire post in response! Is that like a blogger's dream come true? Maybe just mine? I encourage everyone to read Gretchen's post, Training. Nicely done!

    @Cam- Thank you, sweetie. I in fact am one of those people that say things without thinking, but I'm really good at holding my tongue about Autism.

    @Pepper- Thanks! All Mom's {and Dads} are Superheros when they decide to put their kids first and set a good a sexy cardigan, yes! :)

  11. Ha, I met a woman a few months ago because she suspects her son has autism. We are on the same SAHM board so I told her she could email me and I'd talk to her about it. We met for coffee one day and she said congratulations to me, I was newly pregnant and had just announced it. It's my fourth baby, so we chatted about that and also about how we were Catholic. She mentioned another family she knew from church, that had a lot of kids, like nine or something, and the third one had autism. She said "Can you imagine? WHY would anyone have more kids once they had one with autism?". So I'm sitting there, pregnant WITH MY FOURTH, and my FIRST is the one with autism and I was all, um, I don't know? I don't know why anyone would do that? But they sometimes do? Like I am? It was v. awkward.

  12. @Joanne- Awkward indeed! I'm no saint when it comes to opening my mouth and saying something stupid, but some people have got to think. Four kids? Bless you, honey! Thanks for stopping over!

  13. Ok I have written this comment like 4 times now because every time I try to say something it comes out kind of crappy. I don't know this girl but I can tell you I admire your patience with people, I probably would have ripped her face off or something. I try but I'm just not very accepting of ignorance. I hate judgy people who think they are better than others, and have absolutely no tolerance when people don't know better than to keep their mouths shut about things they are completely uneducated about.

    Okay seriously it still sounds witchy, sorry, you should have seen the other four I deleted before posting. I have been reading your blog for some time now, and you know you're funny and witty and charming, and I love it, but that's not what keeps me coming back (I'm sorry I usually don't comment, I read at work and can't get caught hehe). You are such a genuine, beautiful person Cari. I mean I love seeing you and your family in your words, I'm attached to your kids through your posts and pictures, and it truly is a privilege that you share with us.

    I truly hope you don't let this girls irresponsible remark take up too much more time in your brain, some people just need to feel like they are a part of whatever is going on and like the sound of their own voice too much to just listen rather than trying to take part. You are an amazing Momma, with amazing kiddos and that is all that matters.

    I am always just an email away if you ever need to vent. :-D


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