“As the mother of a child with autism…”

I don’t have anything else to add to that, but I got your attention didn’t I?  Don’t feel like a sucker.  You’re not the only one.

It has come to my attention that whenever I say, “As the mother of a child with autism…” people instantly pay attention.  They presume I’m wise and sagely, and they’ll take virtually anything I say as gospel.  It’s quite fabulous really.

The statement could be followed with something as simple as “…I like kids chewable vitamins” and people will take this into serious consideration.  “Hmmmm…maybe chewables ARE better for kids than gummies.  I mean, she would know; her child has autism.”

I didn’t ask for this.  I didn’t plan on having a child with autism.  I didn’t want to have a child with autism, but “lo and behold” I do.  And it sucks.  But when you have a child with special needs and you’ve put in the hours and years of dedication to the process of helping that child as I have, shouldn’t I enjoy a few of the perks?

Well, people thinking I am really smart is one of them.

When I say ,”As the mother of a child with autism, I buy mostly organic fruit,” it is met with a collective, “Oooooooooooooo.”

When I say, “As the mother of a child with autism, I have my kids ride their bikes at least twice a week,” I hear a united, “Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Believe me, I don’t actually think I’m saying anything interesting or even noteworthy.  I’m usually not.  And God knows, whatever I’m yapping about is almost always unsubstantiated.  I’m a busy woman.  Sure my kid has autism, but that doesn’t mean I know any more than the average bear.

But people can’t help but think I have something valuable to say.  It appears to be a natural gut reaction to think, “Oh, she’s the mother of a child with autism.  She must know a lot about child development.”   Or, “Wow, her kid has autism.  That sucks.  Even if I don’t agree with her, I feel sorry for her and I’m going to give her whatever she wants.”

I’d love to say I’m above it, but I’m not.

It’s wonderful.  If I’m at school and I want my daughter to have a better seat in class, I just say, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think my girl should sit in front.”  If I’m out with friends at a movie, I can say with accepted authority, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think the characters in that movie were well-drawn.”  Or, let’s say we’re driving to the valley and I just don’t want to be stuck on side streets.  I’ll say, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think we should take the highway.”

I suppose I shouldn’t expose myself to the world and tell people I’ve figured this out, and I certainly shouldn’t use my own family’s misfortune to take advantage of others when I can get away with it.

But I did, and I do.

And tonight, I’m going to go out to dinner with some friends.  I’d like to have a couple of cocktails, so I’m thinking I’ll casually ask, “Who wants to be the designated driver?”  We’ll all look at each other and then I’ll point to one of them and say, “As the mother of an autistic child, I really think you should be the one driving.”

And it will work.

At long last, I’ve found my silver lining.

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Sarah is a comedian, freelance writer, and the founder of "Mommy Lite" (www.MommyLiteOnline.com), a parenting humor site. Her work has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, on More.com, ParentsAsk.com, DivineCaroline.com, Shine.com, and TheWellMom.com. She has appeared at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, The Hollywood Improv and Stand-Up New York. Sarah is the creator and co-author of "The Bridesmaid’s Guerrilla Handbook" (Berkley Books) and her second non-fiction humor book, "Got Milf? The Modern Mom's Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan," will be out in Spring 2011. Sarah lives in Los Angeles with her ten year old daughter, six year old boy/girl twins and three ridiculously overweight guinea pigs.

27 responses to “My Child Has Autism and It’s Awesome!”

  1. Mary says:

    LOL wow. That’s pretty funny. My mother-in-law works with special needs students at a local school, and the biggest issue she complains about is parents who refuse to acknowledge that their kid has autism or asperger’s or what have you. At least you don’t fall into that category. Might as well make the best of what you’ve got, right?

    • Sarah says:

      It’s so true. I don’t know why people are so resistant. Pride I suppose. Anyway, I don’t have that problem. I have no pride. Or shame for that matter. 🙂

      Thank you for so much for reading and taking the time to comment – you were my first comment on TNB and it was very exciting!

  2. As a father of someone with Asperger’s I welcome your humorous words on the topic. Enjoy your evening of cocktails.

  3. This if freaking hilarious. It’s so true. Just the other day my yoga instructor was going on and on to the class about how she had learned so much at her day job in a hospital by observing a mother of a kid with autism, and how wise and patient and zen and “shining” the mother was, and how we should all aim to be just like this woman. I mean, the woman may have been all that stuff (or not), but none of us knew her or had observed her: her street cred was the autistic kid. That was all she needed. And you know what: everyone in the class, myself included, was totally buying it! We were all inspired!
    Ironically, you probably know more than you realize. Though maybe not about whether you should take the highway or not, ha.

    • Sarah says:

      This made me laugh so hard. Funny you used the word “Street Cred”. I originally titled the piece “Mommy Street Cred” but no one seemed to “get it.” You’re a clever woman!

      Feel free to be inspired by me. I’ll take it!

      I did really appreciate your reading and commenting! I LOVE TNB!

  4. jonathan evison says:

    . . .as a guy who read a post by a mother of a child with autism, i think that’s very funny . . . but really, i know what you’re up against with the squirt . . .i spent three years in the trenches with kids with dissociative disorders . . .never a dull moment . . .

  5. As a mother who has a child on the autistic spectrum with Aspergers, (couldn’t resist…)
    thanks for making me laugh. And I concur. And y’know what?
    Now I’m going to give myself full license to say all sorts of shit now. And do all sorts of shit – can’t wait! Like use the word shit on a comment board! I wish I could use it on my kids though…” as your mother and one of you has been evaluated as being on the autistic spectrum with Aspergers, I really think you need to pick up your toys” Will it work?

    Seriously – good luck to you. My heart races whenever I even see the word autism – I’m always afraid I’m going to read whatever it’s about and end up crying or feeling bad, so thank you for making me laugh.

    • Didn’t work with me, Stephanie. He’s 20 now, and I’m doing the punk’s laundry as I type. hahahaha.

      • Nick, I’ve always wanted to tell you that your son is so charming and talented (from pics and vids I’ve seen) – it’s been a bit of a comfort to share this in common with you and to see how cool your son is all grown up in the world. Hope we all get to meet one day.

    • Sarah says:

      You should absolutely take full license! My daughter has Asperger’s too and I am so glad you appreciated the laugh. God knows we need one!

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! Can’t wait to read your stuff!

  6. Joane says:

    My sister sent me this, it’s great! I too am a mother of a child with autism, and I grow weary of people acting like I have a … unicorn, or something, in him. EVERYONE thinks I am an “awesome!” mom and they are WRONG, but I never let them in on my secret. 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Maybe you should try to whittle down that horn in the middle of your child’s forehead? 🙂

      People are so funny. I get that look all the time. Probably because my child does have a horn in the middle of her forehead.

      Feel free to share any fun stories or any rants on my blog! I love to get them! http://www.MommyLiteOnline.com.

      Suck up the awesomeness! Thank you SO much for commenting! All these amazing comments TOTALLY made my week!

  7. As a single woman who enjoys Asparagus, I loved this post! This is your first, no? Welcome aboard, Sarah!

  8. rachel schinderman says:

    Welcome to TNB…you know I love your writing and that I love this piece!

  9. Take your silver lining and make yourself the biggest, baddest, super hero cape you can find …. I have a feeling the world will be yours (along with free cocktails, good parking spots, and never having to wait in a line again …) you get the drift… especially when you put the words: Mother of an Autistic Child on the back in HUGE block letters.
    Welcome to TNB – great post!

  10. As the aunt of a child with autism I wholly approve of what you’re doing here!

  11. Marni Grossman says:

    Sarah, I refuse to believe that you don’t have any sort of special wisdom. As a person who’s heard of autism- and finds you hilarious- I think it’s clear that you have much to teach us.

  12. Luchina Fletcher says:

    Holy crap….that’s awesome.

    *Puts on “Number One Fan” hat*

    As the mother of a child with autism, I wholeheartedly concur. I certainly should not be expected to do such mundane tasks as (Insert whatever I don’t feel like doing), I am the mother of a child with autism. It’s gotten me out of jury duty, out of trouble for calling in at work, out of pot-luck duty, out of countless arguments….you name it. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the awesomeness of this power and never abuse it through over-use. It’s far far too precious not to be cherished.

    Thank you for this. You made this mother of a child with autism’s day.

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