Recently I have learnt a lesson.
As a mother of an autistic child, it appears I must be prepared for “the experts”.
Experts are people I encounter that possess such vast and wondrous knowledge about anything related to autism. The experts knowledge can be surprising as quite often they make very big assumptions, have grandiose ideas and they usually think themselves very qualified to part with there statements. The expert is very sure of themselves and Is usually not meaning any harm. But they can veer off into smug territory when you kindly (or unkindly, depending on your mood) point out what they say may not be, umm, true.
I can usually spot an autistic expert by the language. Heavy on ableism. Likes autism cliches, ” does he flap his hands? They like doing that”.
And ready… Ready for it. The alarm bells will sound when they pull out “I know someone with autism.” These are usually the full bells and whistles, overly qualified expert.
Experts have brought to my attention the following information.
“have you heard about how diets can help?”
I have heard this one so many times, and it’s one I hear from other parents or autistic adults.
“Did you know you can see a doctor in America who can heal him like (clicks fingers)”
I was hoping that the same doctor is able to heal people with such awful manners.
“You should try this social skills group so he can learn to be interact with others”
I got this in a playground from a kinder mum.
” have you seen in the news about broccoli extract? It could help.”
“Your really lucky, I have seen people with terrible autism.”
Super experienced expert here, able to measure worth of persons life.
“Vaccinating could make things worse.”
I have seen so much offensive vaccination expert advice for a lifetime. On both camps pro vax or ant vax.
Ironically I have seen many parents who haven’t vaccinated their children, who, are autistic and have people assume that they have. Because, well , how else would they “get it?”
“Autism shouldn’t be an excuse for his behaviour”
Behaviour. Is. Communication. For. Everyone.
Experts can offend you in many ways.
You may want to smack then over the head with a heavy book with information they should read before coming at you with their wisdom.
You may want to take a deep breath, smile and nod.
You can share what you think of the “expert opinion”. This is for brave days or someone you think is open to learning.
You may want to go home and cry because experts can hurt. They can tell you things that they know very little about and you think “really, these people still think this??”
I like to share sometimes with a loved one who isn’t an expert who will be as outraged as I am or we laugh at how ridiculous it is.
They are frustrating, they usually care a lot, but share in a clumsy way.
Yes they will be coming at you, sometime soon. So deep breaths and do your best.
I realised after I wrote this, I needed to acknowledge that we are all able to be experts. We can be other people’s experts on a range of subjects and experting is not exclusive to autism.
I have been an expert so many times I’m surprised no one has thrown a book at me.