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Why I Stopped Caring What People Think About My Son on the Autism Spectrum

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At the beginning of last summer I overheard a conversation between two teenagers about my son, Brock. They were talking about how “odd” and “weird” he was. I just rolled my eyes, puffed out a quick calming breath, called for my son and we walked away.

Previously I would’ve been devastated, hurt and consoling my child. But now I just don’t care, and it seems neither does he. He knows he’s autistic and has his own “quirks,” but he also knows it’s so important to embrace yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.

As Brock is getting older, I find it more important to teach him how to handle adversity and how to stand up for himself if the situation calls for it.

Awareness to me includes letting my child be an active participant in his medical and educational history. I never hid his diagnosis from him, I was honest from day one and I truly believe that has helped him understand who he is and there is no changing that. He’s also joined in on his individualized education plan (IEP) meetings the last two years, and it has helped his whole team both give and meet his individual academic needs.

I see part of awareness as also being able to accept who you are. Brock can’t change himself, he was born with autism, and he truly loves who he is. If I took the time to sit and explain to every person each “oddity” he displays I would be taking away from his personality. Instead I just let him be.

If you want to dance in the middle of a grocery store, have at it. Get down.

If you need to self soothe in public by rocking back and forth, I’ll sit next to you until you’re ready to continue on.

If the florescent lights are bothering you in a store, I’ll wear my shades with you. Even if it’s 9 p.m.

If you’re repeating yourself by asking the same question, I’ll answer it every single time until your anxiety dissipates.

Our normal is our normal.

What we do in our home may not be what you do in yours.

I believe if you are OK with yourself, then others will follow.

Kindness is contagious, and so is acceptance.

Originally published: November 12, 2018
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