10 things not to ask an autism parent...

9 November 2016

Dear friend,

This morning I crossed the road too quickly (narrowly missing a cyclist and a van) just to avoid talking to a parent from school. She rubs me up the wrong way. Every time I walk away from a conversation with her I feel worse. She is nice, she is pleasant. She just always asks the wrong things! Instead of avoiding this woman I should simply tell her:

1) Please don't ask me every time I see you how my son is doing at school.
Especially when you obviously know/think you know. Part way through our conversation you will throw in an anecdote from your son which is usually about one of the big lad's bad days. I get feedback from school thank you!

2) Don't ask for details of the support/therapy that my son is receiving.
I don't ask for details about your child's education, or their problems.
Is (child) struggling with maths? I hear you have a tutor.

3) Don't tell me how lucky I am that my son is clever enough.
Autistic does not mean retarded.

4) Don't tell me that my son is lucky that the school/class/teachers etc accept him.
I thank my lucky stars that we have found a good school and that he is in a relatively small group of nice kids. But they are also bloody lucky to have a funny, warm, caring child like my big lad.
Acceptance is a big word. How many of those kids invite him to play or to their party?

5) Don't ask if my son will go to the next group.
The answer is yes because the school and us, recognise the importance that he stays with his peers. Do you? Refer also to point 3. (In Holland children who are struggling academically will repeat a year.)

6) Don't ask if my son will stay at this school.
I don't know what the future will bring. But with the right support, the right teachers, we hope he will continue at this school! Is this code for he should be in a special school? (See point 3.)
This question highlights that my son is different it excludes us.

7) Don't ask if autism runs in the family.
Perhaps, but we are not sure what causes autism.
You are basically asking me if it is my fault that my son has autism.
Does insensitivity run in your family?

8) Don't ask me if I know your second cousins best friends kid who has autism.

9) Don't ask if I have tried...
Autism is not an illness. It is a developmental disorder. There is no cure.

10) Don't ask if he will grow out of it!
No. Autism is for life.

Don't ask a special needs parent a question that you wouldn't ask a neurotypical child's parent.

Please treat my son and I the same as everyone else. I know it can be difficult but if in doubt just smile and say


This is a revised post. 

If you liked this post then please feel free to share on social media or drop me a comment. Thank you!


  1. I found myself holding my breath as I read this list. Just -- YES.
    As far as I am concerned, mum to mum, I think you are PERFECT ;)

  2. Brilliant post and one that many many many parents need to take note of!

  3. This is a great post - I think sometimes people can feel awkward when they haven't had experience of interacting with children of families of children with special needs so I'm sure this will be very helpful for those in that camp #MMWBH


    1. Thanks Talya. I'm so glad it was helpful for you. Thanks for your comment!

  4. I admit to being guilty of asking my friend (whose son is autistic) how he is doing at school. In my defence though I don't ask this question to have a dig, or imply he shouldn't be there. I ask because he's a very clever kid and I'm interested to know his latest achievements. I also ask the same question about her other son who doesn't have special needs (I think I'm just nosy lol). I don't think this is an offensive question, but some of the others certainly are! #mmwbh

    1. No don't feel guilt well done for asking. I don't mind when people are asking because they are interested and caring it is the hidden agenda that gets to me. So perhaps I should have written: How is he doing at school because...

    2. Thank you, I feel a bit better about that now. I would hate her to think I was being horrible!

  5. I get your frustrations and it certainly touches things for me. I have some personal experience of this. I try very hard to see the intent behind the things people say. On face value some of the things I have been told are ridiculous and some even insulting but mostly they are just trying to be kind when they feel awkward. The insulting things are less easy to deal with (ones that infer I must have caused the problems) but I put it down to peoples need to dismiss something that if they really thought it could happen to them would them would be quite uncomfortable. It is a really good topic to talk about though. It is tough to not be the same and left questioning peoples motives.

    1. Fantastic comment. Thanks for joining the discussion. Yes I agree it's very insulting when others imply it is your fault.

  6. You have my sympathy. This person really does seem astonishingly inconsiderate. My daughter is also autistic, but she isn't at school yet so this isn't something I've really had to deal with yet (only family members reacting with sorrow when we're trying to be matter-of-fact). #SSAmazingAchievements

    1. Some of our relatives had a hard time knowing what to say. Hardest for me was when people said things like; he's too clever to be autistic. I wish people would just ask; how can we help or what can we do. Thanks for commenting!

  7. I love point 4 especially! will remember that one for future. One of the things I struggle with is once new people know about J's social communication difficulties sometimes they go out of their way to get him to smile or respond to them in some way and he just wants to be left alone especially as it is people he hardly knows and that just drives me crazy. popping by from #SSAA x

    1. Nodding along as this drives me nuts it is almost as though they are trying to prove the diagnosis wrong!

  8. Oh gosh, reading away nodding at your list. We have to walk past D's old mainstream school to her SN school and it can be very difficult sometimes.
    It's a shame that some people can't accept that autism isn't our "fault" and it's a lifelong disability, also that there are lovely moments too.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

    1. Thanks Jeanette, not my usual positive post. Must have been a bad day! Love your point that autism isn't our fault. Thanks for hosting again.

  9. Wow. I would need to avoid someone like that. I just think sometimes people do not think about what they are saying, well that is my only reasoning I can give. I think crossing the road is the right thing to do. Just please avoid the traffic #SSAmazingAchievements


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