Belle's toys stacked on the couch

No, your child is not like mine

I’ve found that people have this tendency to try and one-up your situation. They always have a story of their own to tell that’s equally as bad, if not worse, than whatever yours is. It’s like a ploy to minimize the importance of your story; to let you know that whatever you’re going through is nothing compared to what they’re going through. Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I’ve always been a listener, and I hear this kind of thing a lot. And it’s annoying.

Belle is four years old, and mostly non-verbal. She’s non-verbal because of autism. She hasn’t “made the choice” to not talk. It’s not that she “has nothing to say,” either. She’s capable of speech, but it’s mostly echolalia. She’s not going to tell us what she wants, or hold a conversation with us. If she’s feeling hurt, or upset, she’s won’t be able to tell us what the problem is. It can make it extremely difficult for us sometimes. What’s even more difficult is when others try to downplay it by saying their child isn’t talking, yet, either.

Oh, yeah? Is your not-yet-one-year-old child incapable of telling you what’s wrong when he screams? Yes, it would be nice if they could tell us what’s wrong, but chances are that your kid will at some point. Now, I don’t want to be super harsh on people like this. I doubt that they’re trying to make me mad, but wouldn’t a little bit of common sense tell them there’s a big difference between an infant, and a four-year old?

We don’t want Belle to be compared to a child that is not on the autism spectrum. She is her own, unique person regardless of autism. Another child needing to bring their favorite action figure, or doll with them everywhere isn’t the same as Belle needing to have things in her hands. They don’t get that when we go to the store, and try to get her to leave her things behind she’ll have a meltdown in the parking lot. They don’t get that we sometimes have to get back in the vehicle and head for home because of it.

There are things that she does that may seem similar in nature to what another kid does, but chances are good that she’s doing them for a different reason. Not sleeping, eating, or listening to us; not sitting still, or paying attention to where she’s walking. Her mind works completely different. The things that she does shouldn’t be minimized by someone else because they think they can relate in some way. They don’t need to be compared.

I understand that people can’t grasp what it is that we’re going through, but they don’t need to! Our children are not similar, and that’s okay!

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