Language
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
Back to Firefly Blog

3 Things You Should Never Say to Me, a Parent of an Autistic Child, Unless You Are Ready for my Answers

3 Things You Should Never Say to Me, a Parent of an Autistic Child, Unless You Are Ready for my Answers

How many times have people said things to you that make you frustrated or angry (or even sad)?

That point where, if you roll your eyes any further back you’d probably never get them back or the deep, heavy sigh with your eyes shut as you remind yourself to breathe and count to ten…

I will just add here that I’m all for people using and interpreting these in their own way, these are just my personal annoyances and I genuinely do acknowledge that not everyone is autism aware and they may not understand how irritating or hurtful some words can be.

So I guess this is a mini rant from a sleep deprived mum who has a very sarcastic sense of humor.

“She doesn’t look autistic” – If I had a pound every time someone said this to me…

Arrrgh! I’m not entirely sure what you think autistic people should look like. It’s an invisible disability/condition.

My child isn’t suddenly going to grow a third eye, glow in the dark or multiply if I feed her a cookie after midnight.

Now I know some people might genuinely say this because they’ve met ONE autistic person whose traits and behaviors are nothing like my child’s.

I get that, I really do.

It’s a spectrum, everyone is different. But this is said so commonly it becomes extremely frustrating and opens the gate wide open to my sarcastic sense of humor.

“I’m so sorry” (accompanied with the head tilt of sympathy)

Now I appreciate that this can often be a response when you don’t know what to say, or you don’t really understand what autism is and it sounds scary to you so this is how you feel but to me, as a parent, it makes me both sad and angry.

Please don’t be sorry, my daughter is amazing. Saying ‘I’m so sorry’ makes me feel like you are grieving for her, that she’s broken or defective.

She is a wonderful, intelligent and loving young lady with a slightly sarcastic sense of humor (No idea where she gets that from, honest).

Get to know her, find out about autism and how it makes her different but please don’t feel pity for her or us as a family.

Ask her questions, ask me questions. See her for who she is – a flappy happy quirky ten-year-old that loves sequin cushions, Roblox, Unicorns and reading. She’s different, not broken and not less than anyone else.

“She’s autistic? Oh wow, what’s her special talent?”

Well she can juggle fifteen oranges with her eyes closed whilst hopping on one leg and singing ‘baby shark’……. Sorry (not) but she doesn’t have a ‘special talent’.

Like every single person in the world, she has her weaknesses and her strengths.

It makes me feel like she is about to perform a trick if you say ‘special talent’. She attends a school, not a circus.

Now it’s not uncommon for some autistic people to be rather gifted or skilled in certain areas (incredible memory perhaps being the most noted one) but please don’t assume all autistic people can do them.

Everyone is unique, it’s a spectrum.

Some may like calling them ‘special talents’ and that’s fine but don’t see autism as a ‘one size fits all’ as that’s really not the case.

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

Julie Clarke

Meet Our Blogger

I live in the East Midlands, UK and I'm mum to Eliza, 9 (Autism & Anxiety) and Noah, 4 (NT). Running a blog and Facebook page has helped me create an amazing support network as well as raising autism awareness and acceptance and we've made some great friends too.

View Julie’s Profile

Become a Firefly Blogger

Would you like to write for Firefly? Join our blogger network of parents, therapists and professionals.

Get In Touch

Become a subscriber today

Join over 40,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter with insightful articles just when you need them.

Join Mailing List

By using our site you agree to our use of cookies. Click here for more info.

Accept & Close

No Interest if paid in full in 4 months on

Purchases on £99+

UK Customers only. Subject to credit approval. See terms below

Paypal Credit

Pay now or pay over time with PayPal Credit. Just use PayPal Credit in PayPal checkout.

Subject to credit approval.

Purchases of £99+:

No Interest if paid in full in 4 months on purchases of £99 or more.

  • A minimum monthly payment is required and may or may not pay off the promotional purchase by the end of the 4-month period.
  • No interest will be charged on the purchase if you pay it off in full within 4 months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the purchase from the purchase date at the Purchase APR applicable to your account.
  • Any remaining balance due after the 4-month promotional period or any transactions under £99 will be charged interest at 19.9% p.a. (variable).

Purchases of £98.99 or less:

Buy now and pay over time with PayPal Credit when you spend £98.99 or less.

  • If you pay your balance in full each month by the payment due date that is on your statement, you can avoid paying interest.
  • Or, make minimum monthly payments, or any additional amount of your choosing, until you've paid off your balance according to your standard account terms. Please note, interest charges may apply.
  • We'll send you email reminders when your payments are due. You can also keep track of your account and view your statements online at any time.

About PayPal Credit

  • PayPal Credit is a reusable credit line available on purchases at thousands of stores that accept PayPal. It's also available for purchases on eBay and exclusively at thousands of other online stores. Plus, it comes with the same security and flexibility you trust from PayPal.
  • In order to maintain the 0% offer, you need to keep up monthly repayments and stay within your credit limit. Credit subject to status. Terms and conditions apply. UK residents only.

Please wait...