I’ve heard countless questions and statements from family members along those lines.
-” I just pray he’ll be completely healed!”
-” Will he grow out of it?”
-” Will he always be this way?”
-” Will he ever talk normally?”
These types of questions and statements shock me to my core and downright hurt me. They hurt for many reasons. But mainly it’s because of the “unspoken undertone” behind each question and statement or the “unspoken double meaning” of them.
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First, they show a lack of understanding about individuals with autism as a whole. Instead of researching and knowing the facts about autism, my relatives are more inclined to blurt out questions that do come across as insensitive.
Since my son’s diagnosis at age three, I’ve done everything I can to educate myself on the subject of autism. No, I can’t control what people want or need to educate themselves about, but I feel family members should take the time and research more about autism.
Maybe if more time was devoted to learning about autism I wouldn’t be faced with these hurtful remarks.
What hurts the most though is the “hidden meaning” that’s implied with each insensitive question and statement. When I hear, “Will he grow out of it?” I hear the hidden message behind the question echoing in my head…
“Will he grow out of it because I just want him to be normal?” While I could be looking too deeply into things, the question hurts me nevertheless.
Even though that wasn’t said, they didn’t have to say it. The question was insensitively asked without any knowledge on the subject and therefore asked with an undertone of embarrassment toward my son and his behavior.
It hurts to think that family members are judging him and praying that “he’s completely healed of autism.”
While I do believe in the power of prayer, I’m not going to pray for my son’s autism to magically disappear one day. Isn’t it quite possible that maybe this is who God made him to be and loves him anyway?
I don’t view autism as a disease that needs to be cured.
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As his mother, when I do pray, I pray for God to help him understand language so he’s able to communicate his needs and wants better. I pray he doesn’t have a full-blown meltdown and remains calm when we go to the store. It’s the little things in life when you have a child with autism.
My answers to these questions and statements are typically the same. “You don’t just grow out of autism.” “You can’t just pray the autism away.”
Then, I proceed to explain to them that he will eventually talk in full sentences and will be able to manage his own sensory needs. But it takes time. Every child develops at their own pace!
The unspoken or hidden messages that come with those questions always leave me with mixed feelings of anger, sadness, and an incredible amount of mom guilt. I already struggle with so much mom guilt since my son’s diagnosis.
I don’t need questions asking me if he will “grow out of his autism.” It simply reminds me that maybe I did something to cause his autism or at the very least my genetic profile didn’t help him.
Overall, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t look to the past for answers as to why he has autism.
I can only move forward and try to make his life as fulfilling as possible by making sure all his autism needs are met. Things like preschool, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and a sensory diet are what’s going to help him succeed in life and be able to communicate effectively.
I’ve accepted my son’s diagnosis of autism and I realize how incredible he is! My question to all my family members who ask these questions is the same: “I’ve accepted my son with autism for who he is. Have you?