Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Assumption of "Normal"

It is common that when you meet new people, that you ask each other about family. I tell people that I have five children and they respond by asking about ages. When they hear that I have two teenagers, they often respond with common understandings of what teenagers are like.

The truth is that my teenagers are not typical. They have autism, are nonverbal and live in a group home.

I have a moment in which I decide whether or not to explain our situation. I'm not embarrassed by my kid's autism. It is just sometimes a pain to go into the details and I hate the look of pity that I frequently get. Often I just nod my head and pretend that I know what teenagers are like.

People make the assumption that your children are "normal." By normal, I mean without disabilities. I'm using other people's definitions here, because I think my kids are pretty normal. There are times they seem more normal than our children without autism!

Why do I bring this up?

I'm not suggesting that people don't ask about families in case someone is offended. Nor am I suggesting that people shouldn't assume that children are typical. Most often they are going to be right.

I guess I'm just sharing this because it is something that I go through regularly. I never resent the person that asks. But there are days that it stirs up the feelings of missed opportunities. I'm telling you all this, not to change what you say, but to let you know that there are complex feelings that may go along with the answer.

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