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spectrummom
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08 Feb 2013, 8:46 am

Hi again. My husband's parents are coming to visit in a few weeks and already I'm a stress case. You see, they don't think my 9 year-old has autism. Unclear whether they think he has anything, but they have asserted, recently, that they know he doesn't have autism. How do they know? Because whenever they see us and we're around other kids he joins in to play with them. My mother-in-law inevitably comments on how social he is and I usually walk away because it's not a good time to engage in an argument. Never mind that he has no close friends, doesn't get invited out, and spends half of that "social" time doing his own thing.

This time, I want to respond. Thinking about saying something like, "yes it's great that he can play spontaneously with random kids, but this is just a small sliver of the social skills a 9 year old boy should have." Then I'm going to call my husband over because she tends to get offended when I speak the truth but doesn't mind when my husband (her son) does. I've given up on trying to convince them, and they won't talk to his doctor because they think he's a quack (never mind that they have never seen his bio and don't even know his name). In fact, he's the region's leading expert on developmental disorders and all the professionals we've engaged over the years across disciplines agree that my son is on the spectrum.

What suggestions do you have for surviving the weekend? What would you do?



ASDMommyASDKid
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08 Feb 2013, 9:27 am

From my experience arguing with people who are already set with what they think is useless. Everything you say will be countered with something and it will just serve to upset you. You cannot persuade people who are not open to it, and if that is what they are then it will just increase your blood pressure.

I personally, would just refuse to discuss it, and say something to the effect that neither of you is going to be able to persuade the other so please drop it.

If you still want to attempt to educate them, I would find written articles and just hand it to her so she can read it at her leisure. Based on what you have said, I would expect that she will call them quacks too. Then aside from letting her know she has no degree in childhood development and telling her that her opinion means jack squat, what else could you do? That would just make things nasty and more unpleasant.

*Disclaimer: My in-laws are big pains in the behind and that is reflected in my answer.



MomofThree1975
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08 Feb 2013, 9:30 am

I am sorry you have to deal with your MIL, but honestly, I would ignore her. My son has a obvious language delay so I don't have to convince anyone about anything. But even if he didn't, I wouldn't waste my time on trying to convince anyone anything, unless it had something to do with my son getting services (my ASD son is 4). My MIL, what hasn't seen my son in 2 years (and has never met our 2 yo daughter) was told our suspicion (before we say even 1 doctor) and within a week, she went around telling everyone my son was Autistic. Honestly, you MIL wanting to optimistic would not bother me. You know what you know and her need to reassure herself that everything is okay doesn't seem like too big of a deal to me.



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08 Feb 2013, 10:04 am

my blanket response to peoples uneducated comments are, "You dont live with him. I am glad he can hold it together for X, or during X when you see him, but you dont get the whole picture, so I dont expect you to understand."

End of story!


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08 Feb 2013, 10:13 am

spectrummom wrote:
Then I'm going to call my husband over because she tends to get offended when I speak the truth but doesn't mind when my husband (her son) does.?


^^ This. Have your husband deal with her. Maybe they can even have a talk pre-visit, and he can let her know that when she questions the diagnosis it isn't helpful, and can be offensive, and that he would appreciate her not doing it in future.



aann
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08 Feb 2013, 10:22 am

I think you have to ask what it is you want from her, then don't get it from her, get it from people who understand. Before the weekend, go out with friends, if that's possible. Have a good time and vent a bit. Don't expect anything of your in-laws.

I know it's hard, but let them come to the truth on her own. Your son is who he is. In time they will see it and be so proud of all you have done, if they are at all decent people. If not, well, that's who they are!

What might they comment? If they say, "See how well he is playing with others?" you can say,"Pretty good, huh?" Just agree. Inside you are saying, "Pretty good for an autistic child." If they say, "Hey, I'm so glad my grandson is not autistic," you can say, "It's a good feeling, isn't it." Inside you can say, "I'm glad my in-laws are feeling peaceful in their old age."

Remember, it's just one weekend. Put on an act. Serve them the best you can. Accept that they don't understand and may never. They aren't your support system. They just gave you a great husband (assuming so).



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08 Feb 2013, 11:20 am

Well, it could be b/c he's being closely watched by four adults, so he feels safer in engaging in play with kids about his own age.
It sounds like a completely different story if he's left to his own devices outside of family get-togethers in public. What I surmise is that he struggles to process unstated rules of play, turn-taking, etc, plus awkward motor coordination that comes with the syndrome, can either freeze him out of interactions, or make kids hostile - not that any of this is his fault.

So, his grandma is either having trouble understanding and/or accepting these inherent differences, and the fact that they are more pronounced in certain contexts, being biased just by what she sees firsthand. At least it's a kindly response as opposed to the more curmudgeonly and stereotypical "Pah! in my day, we didn't have kids with these autism conditions, they just got a good slap upside the head if they didn't behave" - in other words accusing you of being bad parents if your son wasn't "normal". At least you don't get that.

I'm an adult in my 30s with Aspergers, and definitely found this was an issue back in the 80s when I was afraid to engage in spontaneous play with other kids when no adults were watching, for fear that the other kids would pick up on my being "different" and punish me for it. Due to the fact that bullying began shortly after my 8th birthday, it came as no surprise that I'd be turned off any unsupervised play. Hence my parents begging me to go outside and make friends or call on that boy down the street, my rooted response was a perfectly rational one.



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08 Feb 2013, 11:37 am

aann wrote:
What might they comment? If they say, "See how well he is playing with others?" you can say,"Pretty good, huh?" Just agree. Inside you are saying, "Pretty good for an autistic child." If they say, "Hey, I'm so glad my grandson is not autistic," you can say, "It's a good feeling, isn't it." Inside you can say, "I'm glad my in-laws are feeling peaceful in their old age."


This would be similar to my approach. When people comment how well my daughter is doing (sometimes implying she has no issues) I usually just respond with "Yes, I am very proud of how hard she has worked." I have found there is no point in arguing. People who don't want to hear it, don't want to hear it.


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08 Feb 2013, 12:55 pm

InThisTogether wrote:
aann wrote:
What might they comment? If they say, "See how well he is playing with others?" you can say,"Pretty good, huh?" Just agree. Inside you are saying, "Pretty good for an autistic child." If they say, "Hey, I'm so glad my grandson is not autistic," you can say, "It's a good feeling, isn't it." Inside you can say, "I'm glad my in-laws are feeling peaceful in their old age."


This would be similar to my approach. When people comment how well my daughter is doing (sometimes implying she has no issues) I usually just respond with "Yes, I am very proud of how hard she has worked." I have found there is no point in arguing. People who don't want to hear it, don't want to hear it.


Yes, good for you! excellent response...those of us on the spectrum do have to struggle and work harder to understand, and more importantly apply certain concepts that others take for granted. It doesn't help when others give trivializing responses like implying she has no issues, or that it should "just come to you naturally", no effort required. So you agree "yes" and subliminally disagree with their somewhat flippant observation.



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08 Feb 2013, 1:18 pm

aann has a good point, you need to define what your goal is and what the chances are that your goal can be achieved. If your goal is to have her say she believes 100% that your son has autism, I think, from what you've said, that this is an unrealistic goal. Perhaps you could reset that goal to something a little smaller, maybe there is one particular autistic characteristic that your son commonly displays that you could get her to acknowledge. Or, as others have suggested, let your husband deal with her and just smile and nod your head :wink:



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08 Feb 2013, 1:22 pm

spectrummom wrote:
What suggestions do you have for surviving the weekend? What would you do?

Don't engage them on this issue. That they don't just take your and your husband's word for it makes me think that they are not emotionally capable of handling the truth. It would be pointless to try to educate them, if they were interested in this they would make the effort themselves.
Their opinion, ultimately, does not matter. Treat them with the necessary platitudes and don't waste energy caring what they think.



ConfusedNewb
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08 Feb 2013, 1:28 pm

My inlaws are exactly the same :/ I avoid all talk of it to be honest, I dont want to argue. But if it comes down to it we will just cut them off and they wont see her, simple as that.

Havent read the whole thread yet, will have a good read when the kids are in bed, but OMG sounds very familiar 8O I suspect its because they have similar problems and so anything I bring up sounds normal to them, I can only compare to my childhood and children in my family and my daughter is nothing like anything we have ever known! But she is typical of their family, yes AS can run in families, they are all just indenial because they would then have to look at themselves. My husband hasnt even dared to mention he suspects he has AS and so does his parents!



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08 Feb 2013, 1:43 pm

It's comforting to know another "social" aspie exists! Thank you for being an earnest mom.

With your mother-in-law, you are the usurper and therefore anything you have to say is suspect and untrustworthy. It's nothing personal, just something that's way too common in the world. If it wasn't your son's autism, it would be the color of your hair.

This is something you have no control over because of your position of general disdain so I would suggest that when she starts in on you about your son, don't engage. Politely excuse yourself and get away. Getting your husband to deal with HIS mother is brilliant.

People who have issues with your son's autism have no business hassling you. Protect your turf and dismiss them if need be, but please try to leave a door cracked. Autism is really hard to understand and accept. Give them time. Chances are, they will see the error of their ways and come around. All will be well.


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spectrummom
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08 Feb 2013, 1:56 pm

Thanks everyone! I have been ignoring it for a long time, 6 years now, and my husband will not talk to them unless they bring it up directly. I know I can't convince them, but if I have to hear "he's so social" one more time.... And MIL wonders why I seem a little distant :D

It's very frustrating to have them deny all we've been doing, and whenever we do have success, they attribute it to maturity and use it to justify why he definitely does not have autism. Yes, he's very high functioning and for that we are grateful. I've offered to have them talk with his team and will do so again, just getting sick of walking away.

ConfusedNewb, I suspect the same thing about their family.

InThisTogether, that's a great line and I think I'm going to use it.

It's great to hear that I'm doing the right thing so thanks for that support.

Best,
J



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08 Feb 2013, 3:11 pm

Heres a nice link I sent my inlaws: Especially for Grandparents

I like it because it is an answer to all the crap they come out with but its put in a nice way (a lot more politely than I would lol) and you dont have to say it yourself! We sent it by email and only got a reply from my step father inlaw who is very quiet on the subject, hes fine with it and probably just wants to keep out of it tbh. The mil on the other hand gets very defensive and literally will not listen, her hand comes up and she starts shouting "No no no shes lovely" (meaning kids with ASD cant be lovely?! :evil: ) and we cannot get through to her. It gets towards being agressive so for us its best we avoid the subject. I especially shy away from it because as a stay at home mum its me doing all the Drs appointments etc, so I get the feeling she thinks I cant cope with having an energetic kid so Im looking for an excuse so Im pushing for something that isnt there. I also think she has turned the rest of her family against me. She thinks a firm hand is all thats needed :roll: which is actually in that link lol, so its obviously a bit of a cliche that generation use!

You know what, anything your son does that looks normal is all down to his and your hard work in helping him, so try turning it around and thank her every time she tries to point out how hes doing well :wink: Say something along the lines of yes, we have been working on that and hes doing so well, Im very proud of all of our efforts!

I also make my husband deal with all the issues we have. When my mil has DD5 over to stay she gets very anxious and bites her arm because she doesnt want to go, but she enjoys it once shes there. We have all sorts of problems about what she is allowed to do when shes there, which she is not allowed to do at home. We regularly have to have words with the mil so thats my husbands job.

I think make it into a positive and ignore as much as you can, hope it goes ok, feel free to rant after the visit!!



spectrummom
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08 Feb 2013, 4:04 pm

Wow great link! I noticed the author specifically addresses the fathers parents LOL. Were your in-laws receptive to this article?