When Your Child Is 'That Kid'


My son is “that kid.” The one your child is probably talking about when he gets home from school. The kid who misbehaves. Who doesn’t listen. Who talks out of turn and tells the teacher “No!” He yells and cries and disturbs the class.

Your child will come home and tell you all of this and your thoughts may be running… who is this kid? Doesn’t he have any discipline at home? How is the school dealing with this? My kid better stay clear of him….

I am still in disbelief that “that” is my son! If you know our family, you know we discipline. We follow through on what we say. We are consistent with our reactions and discipline. We are doing everything we are supposed to do, working with multiple behavioral specialists, not to mention his medical specialists. We have been by the book, out of the box, over and under  rocks… and still, we’re here.

There are days I don’t want to face his school. I am the parent of “that kid.” I feel ashamed, not because I don’t think we are doing the absolute best job we can, I am confident in that. But I am ashamed that I care enough to fear what other people think — parents and teachers. I care enough to fear, more importantly, that you may tell your child my son is a bad kid. That they should stay away from him. I promise you, he’s not a bad kid. He just has zero coping skills. And the other “that kid” has been in the hospital more times than he’s been at school.  And the other “that kid” is autistic. The other “that kid” has no family that actually cares that he’s “that kid” so he gets the attention at school. It doesn’t matter the reason. It’s not our business to know. What is our business is what we tell our own kids about “that kid.”

Parents, on behalf of all the parents of “that kid,” we ask one simple thing: give them grace. Model for your kids what grace at school or the playground or practice can look like.

“Man, he sounds like he’s having a bad day. Hope he has a better day tomorrow.”

“We don’t know what his story is, but it sounds like it’s been pretty tough. Maybe he just need a friend. Have you said hello to him?”

“Maybe he doesn’t understand what he needs to do. Can you help him? Can you raise your hand and ask the teacher to help him?”

“Just keep being kind, don’t ever give up on kindness!”

It’s simple words that can make a big difference in how your child sees another person. One day, your child will not see him as “that kid,” he/she will see him as another person who just needs a bit more grace!

Getty image by MarkPiovesan


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Girl looking at her teavher.

What Helped Me as an Autistic Student

With a new school year quickly approaching, I think this is a topic a lot of autism families, especially with younger children are concerned about. My road as an autistic child was not easy. I was blessed to have incredible teachers and an inclusive school environment that allowed me to grow as a student. I [...]
Doctor and patient talking.

Struggling to Advocate for Myself as a Health Professional on the Autism Spectrum

It seems kind of ironic that someone who is a practicing medical provider with over a decade of experience would have trouble advocating for themselves as a patient. I’ve had a couple of medical issues during the last few months, and it has raised my self-awareness about assumptions and bias that exist in the medical [...]
Girl using dating app.

Why It's Hard to Find a Boyfriend as an Autistic Woman

When people ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend, I often get offended. Guys don’t exactly fall all over me once we meet. In fact, their immediate reaction tends to be “I’m not interested,” which is very hurtful and dismissive. It’s as if the one thing I would like most in life seems too [...]
Police lights at night.

The Time I Had to Talk to Police as a Man With Autism

I have autism. I live on my own. I have my independence. I’m a very good person who does good things for the world. Sadly, good people still have to go through some scary situations in this world and that includes people with autism. Sometimes you have to talk to police if you break the [...]