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Dealing with People Who Judge or Criticize Your Child with ASD

 "Help! I have a mother-in-law who believes that all my boy (high functioning autistic) needs is a 'good wippin' ...please, give me a break spanking a special needs child will get him to snap out of it. What do you do with a person like this who has such a narrow perspective? She has no clue!"

Do you have a family member, friend, or coworker who talks about your youngster's problems as if he/she wasn't standing right there …who consistently criticizes your parenting skills …who questions your judgment …who glares at your youngster as if he/she is a freak …or who treats him/her like a “problem child” who simply needs to “learn how to behave”?

No doubt, you as the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have probably found yourself on the receiving end some narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and downright discrimination among those who are (a) ignorant about the condition, and (b) quick to judge.

Managing the judgmental people in your life takes some special “people-skills” that you wouldn’t need if you didn’t have a special needs child.

Here are some tips for dealing with the critics:

1. Just as you know your youngster is bound to behave unacceptably in certain situations, accept that judgmental people are going to state their opinions whether you want to receive it or not. One idea is to change the environment by removing yourself from it. Avoid these people if you possibly can. If you can't, plan your escape just the way you might plan to get in and out of the shopping center quickly with your easily over-stimulated youngster. Have a reason prepared for leaving early, or hanging up quickly.

2. Looking at judgmental people as “specimens to be examined” rather than “idiots who should know better” can take away some of their power.
  • Are they so rigid in their thinking that they can't imagine anybody having a different opinion?
  • Are they so unhappy with their own lives that they want others to be unhappy, too?
  • Do they get a feeling of power from making inconsiderate comments?
  • Do they talk that way because they're insecure and want to build themselves up by tearing others down?
  • Is it possible that they're speaking out of caring and concern, but are just really bad at it?

As with your youngster, if you can figure out what the “critics” are getting out of their behavior, you can try to give them the same reward for behavior that is more acceptable.

3. Just as you can't expect your youngster to act his chronological age, you can't expect your mother-in-law (to use her as an example) to - all of a sudden - appreciate your parenting the way you would like. You may hope for a gradual improvement, and you may find ways to tolerate her attitude, but every time you expect her to act in ways she is fundamentally unable to, you set yourself up for disappointment. In the end, as with your child, you can only truly control yourself.

4. Keep the conversation away from negative comments about your child’s behavior by increasing positive comments about theirs. Flattery may get you everywhere. A kid on the autism spectrum benefits from hearing lots of enthusiastic, positive statements and observations, with negatives delivered as unemotionally as possible. Try that with the judgmental people in your life. If they turn the conversation toward your child’s shortcomings, turn it back with something nice about them. Use distraction as a tool to covert negativity into positivity.

5. If you know you're in for a stressful encounter, talk to a empathetic friend ahead of time to strengthen yourself emotionally. During the encounter, think only about what a great story this will make later on. Then, when you get home, share the outrageous behavior with your friend or a support group. If you've ever vented about your youngster's behavior, you'll know just what to do.

Resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:


•    Anonymous said... All I can say is forgive her for her ignorance, she doesn't get it! You know ur child better than anyone, and know what it is they need. Pay NO attention to the rest who have no clue or idea! Cherish every little difference he has...a child with Special needs isn't given to just anyone! Take care of u, too!!

•    Anonymous said... Hear you well, I keep my mil at a distance as she deliberately winds him up which then the only solution is to leave, so now I just say why bother going there. I'm the one that then has to spend the next few hours calming him down, not her.

•    Anonymous said... I also feel your pain, and I found it so difficult until I remembered that I'm his parent and he is my child, my child who I love and want the best for and being swayed in any way by other people is not what is best for him or any child x

•    Anonymous said... I feel your pain! I have some family members who say similar things and aren't interested in being more educated about what it can mean to live with Asperger's and that harsh physical punishments DO NOT WORK. The hardest part is that my son feels their judgments and knows that they treat him differently because of it.

•    Anonymous said... I have a MIL that blames me for how he is. She said "I don't mean to insult you but it's your fault he is like this". My jaw hit the floor and of course my husband was not around at the time. She continued to go on and say I should have read to him more, disciplined him better..etc. I took a long breathe and just let it go. I did not argue with her because I feel she is ignorant and if she feels she has to blame someone let it be me. I can take it!

•    Anonymous said... My son is 8 and I would never dream of smackin him thats cruel. We now have cards that we show to people who huff and puff when hes having a meltdown

•    Anonymous said... Well, I wouldn't really suggest taking my advice! However, my sister in law told me I needed to whip my son's bottom once. I looked at her and told her I couldn't spank autism out of my son any more then I could slap the ignorance out of her. She hasn't said anything since lol. don't mess with momma bear!

•    Anonymous said... Your spouse tries to educate her. If she persists, then she doesn't have access to your child any longer. It's that simple.

•    Anonymous said…  Sounds like your mother in law needs her attitude adjusted by means of an ass whoopin' herself. Rudeness and ignorance are not disabilties or medical conditions.

•    Anonymous said… Back in our early days we also had people of the same opinion, the day we started giving a smack was the day he started hitting us when he was upset or angry, all it did was teach him that's what you do when your cross. It took us close on 2 years to get him to stop.

•    Anonymous said… Change your ignorant mother-in- law!!!!

•    Anonymous said… Detach and protect your child.

•    Anonymous said… Detach... like Marisol said! I have had similar comments from family and it is heartbreaking. Not only because you are going through such intense emotional ups and downs but also having little support and understanding. We are the only ones who know what is best for our kiddos. Stay strong!!!!

•    Anonymous said… Educate her. Ask her to educate herself. Have her come to a doctors appointment with you and your son so the doctor can inform her. I'm sure you just suggesting these things to her will help her perspective on the matter.

•    Anonymous said… Either educate her or keep your child away

•    Anonymous said… Eliminate them from your inner circle. Reduce contact.

•    Anonymous said… Just think how quickly autism/Aspergers would be cured if beatings worked!

•    Anonymous said… Get her to Google autism....then she can babysit for a few days.

•    Anonymous said… grandparents are gold aren't they? I educated my parents by giving them tons of stuff to read. they stopped offering advice after that.

•    Anonymous said… Great advice. Thank you.

•    Anonymous said… I do spank my Aspie son well not anymore he is 13 BUT i also can tell a meltdown from just him being disobedient dont getting all judgmental I don't tell anyone how to raise there kids and I dont beat my son. I have the typical teenage behavioral issues but hes a doll at school and he knows how to act. Also he does not have ODD or any disorder such as so I think in my situation is fine. If you dont think thats what your child needs that OK and you could also tell them it has nothing to do with him being a ASPIE and you just disagree with spankings

•    Anonymous said… I think this is a common issue... Its so easy to sit on the other side of the fence and judge our patenting...

•    Anonymous said… I would try to give her info on it and let.her know she can either support you and your husband or keep her mouth shut cause its not helping the situation and its putting more stress on both the parents and child. I hate it when ppl try and tell you how you need to raise your child

•    Anonymous said… I'd Ban her from my home! Which is exactly what Iv done with mine! My Philosophy has become "If you don't accept my ASD Son for who he is ur not welcome in my home!" My Priority is my sons happiness not a MIL or anyone else who can't accept him!

•    Anonymous said… I'd say take him I. Will pick him up in two weeks . Good luck . She won't say it again also get some info leaflets leave them about . Xx

•    Anonymous said… Ignore them! Simple enough...

•    Anonymous said… It's a little unconventional, but I had a grandmother say this a few times and I finally said, "Go ahead! He's all yours, I'll pick him up in a few days. " She actually got quiet and never said it again. I love her and I know she loves me and him, she's just uninformed (like so many). Her biggest issue wasn't so much his behavior, but she was worried about me and my stress level. She'll still make comments here and there, but she's 91 so I let a lot slide.

•    Anonymous said… Mine just left after 6 days...she doesn't think we should offer any negative consequences and enables all his negative I can relate to not feeling supportive! I agree thT this person can't be in your inner circle and you can't trust them to supervise the child. We have opted to have minimal contact...lots via phone or emails with pictures...but minimal with actual presence so as to avoid added stress of her opinions to both of us and our son! Key is focus less energy on people like it at your child and your husband!!! You guys staying on the same page as parents is where the energy needs to go!!

•    Anonymous said… My mother feels the same way. I told her to get lost.

•    Anonymous said… My whole family thinks this about my son.

•    Anonymous said… Offer to smack the stupid out of her.... I have a special needs child with autism/Aspergers & I will not "spank it" out of him.

•    Anonymous said… Phahah some people!! Shes be wiped off my list of people I call family or friend straight away!! She needs to learn the right way to deal with an aspie and if not jog on!!

•    Anonymous said… Punitive punishment does not work on Aspies. She needs to buy a clue. What worked for our son when he was young ..was to lock him "out" of his room, hide the Nintendo (the original), and when he got older password protect the computer and up to and including disconnecting the internet.

•    Anonymous said… So many believe this. Sadly, I once did but I read alot & it just isn't the right way at all.

•    Anonymous said… Some of my family too. No stress people don't underatand and always have opinions when they spectators

•    Anonymous said… Spanking doesn't work. It like dealing with a permanent diagnosis everyday/24/7. It does not go away. You can use routine, schedules, and behavior therapy, and behavior modification. Now, I am 46 years old and normal. A spanking worked for me. To each its own. Spanking doesn't work for Aspies. It may work as a last resort for my others but not special needs. I believe in discipline as a last option for my others kids. I will go to every extreme to avoid a physical discipline. I turned out great.

•    Anonymous said… Tell her to read about Asperges children b4 she starts telling you how to bring your child up .sort her behaviour out b4 she stats to critisize you what a bitch she knows nothing.

•    Anonymous said… There is nothing to be done. The MIL isn't the parent, and while mom and dad can be kind and communicative with grandma, parenting the child is for the mom and dad. If you have differing opinions on how to handle things, that is ok.

•    Anonymous said… Wip the MIL.

•    Anonymous said… You can't spank the Autism out of a child (or any other learning/neurological difference for that matter either).

•    Anonymous said… You have to cut family like this off they don't make a good support net work! And you wouldn't ever trust them to take care of your child.

•    Anonymous said… You tell her if she is going to continue that way of thinking, she's not welcome around your family. That's what I would do. I have zero tolerance for ignorance and violence.

•    Anonymous said… Your MIL's philosophy is so misguided. I would not allow my child with her unsupervised. Shame on her.

•    She's very ignorant! The best thing you could do is actually find a very good book on the subject. Read it yourself and highlight things on it then pass it onto her to read! Hitting doesn't solve anything!

•    Anonymous said… When my MIL did this, my response was: "I live with your son, who has no respect for you and won't even visit. How'd that work for you?" Didn't shut her up, but I felt better about it.

Post your comment below…


Anonymous said...

PEOPLE! They do that because they don't understand, or do enough research or don't realize the sytoms of it. Believe me as a Aspie at the age of 28, things will never change in the location I am at. And hoping to come into a network of good and understanding people with the awareness. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i have my parenting judged all the time, not just my aspergers daughter but also ,y 5 yr old who copies her behavior, apparently they hate her......nice

Anonymous said...

I had to move 3 years ago to get away from a particularly nasty neighbour who told me I was a s**t mum and my kids would be better off without me ... She also claimed (regarding my daughters behaviour) "one week with me and i'll sort her out" ... Stupid stupid woman!

Anonymous said...

oh yes, people including family believe my 7 yr old aspie is putting it on and needs bringing into line! walk one day in my shoes stupid people and then dare to judge me, i havent the energy to try and constantly make others understand, my son deserves my precious time :D

Anonymous said...

Uh there's nothing that irks me more than this does. My husband has a ROTTEN step mother, I mean this woman is just rotten and before we knew what was going on with our son she used to talk to him like he just needed to be redirected. Oh...if only we knew back then I would have layed into her with great pleasure. People say "Oh you just need to educate them." Some people don't care to be educated on Autism. I have maybe 3 or so in-laws that I KNOW that once we start talking to them again (we're on a peaceful break from them right now) and inform them our kids have Autism, those 3 or so people will care less and do no such research. And frankly I'm tired of educating the un educated and I hate it when people say that. It's as if they don't realize what we already have on our plate, the school districts, rotten family members, help our children to become high functioning every single day and now you want me to educate society, those who have no desire to learn in the first place? Ok...

Anonymous said...

Like!!! I keep hearing "he sure knows how to push you buttons to get what he wants" from my ex and his parents. I get upset because I feel I will always have to prove I am a good parent because they "tried" to prove me unfit when I left my sons dad just out of spite. It is funny though to see them come running to return him after spending a few hours with him, like here you go by see ya later POOF! Even his dad ( I think he chooses to work out if state because he just can't deal?) Peace peeps ")

Anonymous said...

Once I said to my friend, that ok, it's summer time and maybe you would take my child with you to your cottage for two weeks. Two days later she called - my child is absolutely normal, there is nothing wrong with her. I answered: I know, but let's talk about that after seven days. A week passed and my child was back at home. "What is wrong with her? When does she sleep, what does she eat then, she doesn't get along with other children, she spends hours in a garden alone standing in one place and stearing some maggots, she told terrible things to my kid, and tried to hit her, she uses wrong words and she wants to go home to be with her cat! - a CAT - in the middle of the night! I shall never take her with me and my kids anymore." Then I asked my child, how was the vacation. " It was really hard in the beginning, I tried to be like others, I had to eat their food, that made me feel terrible and the kids were so boring. They had some maggots in the garden, that was interesting, but I would like to spend some time with my cat - don't ask me anymore questions, I'm getting angry thinking back of my ruined week."

Anonymous said...

All the time I hear "one week with me and he won't behave that way anymore! " I always says great, I'd love to see it, but funny that no one tried! I often get "he could if he WANTED to", no he would IF he could. People don't understand that parenting a child on the spectrum is twice the work because you have have to teach them the skills that "normal " kids just automatically know. Funny that everyone thinks they could do it better. I'd love to give them the chance, aspie parents are blessed with extra patience those people don't have!

Anonymous said...

My mom and sister. I got sick of the judging and don't talk to them anymore. Also my son's dad thinks that my son's behavior is bad parenting on my part. We've been to court many times. He blames everything on me. He doesn't want to see the truth.

Anonymous said...

I think I've prob been lucky his dad is absolutely fantastic with him and adores him. My friends and relatives know how to treat him and see his good points and the few people who were short with him before the diagnosis now have more patience. My exs mothers friend as soon as he heard the diagnosis went to get a book from the library that he could read up on it. Maybe I will get more problems down the line but so far so good x x

Anonymous said...

You know, after reading these comments I think that's what I'm going to start saying. "Well you're welcome to have him for a week and give it a try if you like." lol

Anonymous said...

My Former Boss! Can you believe she actually accused me of "making it all up!" Needless to say, I'm no longer working for her. People need to mind their own business...especially when they have no idea what they're talking about!

Anonymous said...

Yes I hav had people like that, they judge me on my parenting skills, certain friends of mine do it, yet i tell them wat my boys are like and they still do it, my kids have problems with behaviour especially in town and round certain people where they speak their minds, now i decide to concertrate on my kids, I know what they are like, if people dont understand or like it, it is their problem

Anonymous said...

A child expert I consulted helped me a great deal by telling me, "95% of parents will think they know how to parent your kid, because 95% of kids are easy to parent, but you got one of the other 5%." I'm not above quoting this one if someone gives me too much advice.

Anonymous said...

Yikes - those awful peeps! I'd forgotten about them as I've been busy building a community of believers... I figure Karma can handle the idiots - I've got my life full.

Anonymous said...

I have found that some people (especially older people) do not understand much about aspie children. Some believe that a spanking, time-out, or restriction will make them do whatever. They blame me because I do not do too many of those things with my aspie child because it doesn't work for him (or me for that matter). I try to educate as many people as I can when it comes to this kind of thing, no matter how stupid, idiotic or ignorant they choose to be.

Anonymous said...

I am to exhausted and to have the extra patients to help friends and family deal with my son is too much to ask of myself .. I have tried to educate and explain what happens at home to school therapist after therapist doctors friends family .. they all say the same thing about how I parent, that he is ok when he is at school, he doesn't behave like that for me, he just needs more discipline, he just does it for attention, he knows how to get his own way, bla bla bla .. over the last 18 year's I have housed and help over 20 children plus had 2 of my own and my parenting skills have never caused any of the other children to behave like this!!! My son is learning new skills each day to cope and accept he has Aspergers .. I am learning each day that conventional parenting makes my son feel more alone and misunderstood so we work together to keep boundaries yet learn more about what helps. I am proud of how well I am doing as a parent and everyone who doubts me can just keep it to themselves and stay out of our lives as we have enough patients love and understanding and don't need their negative attitudes .. thank you all for your comments as I feel so much more understood, empowered and energized :) thankyou

Anonymous said...

There are People like this everywhere esp shopping with my daughter can be hard to take because if she has picked something for herself she will guild it with her life and she will have her hand on it the whole time to the check point and while it goes down the convaya belt her hand is still on it until it gets to the till where she has to take her hand off so she goes to the other side to get it and as soon as the cashier lets go my daughter has it. And this is what everyone stares at her for and u can see in there faces or when they are looking at other people to see if they seen it.

Anonymous said...

It never ceases to amaze me that people who judge so harshly re the ones with the problem, yet they think they have the right to harshly critcise a child in front of them.

Anonymous said...

There is just so much educating you can do. Poeple, even well mean ones try my patience at times. Sometimes it is best to just let poeple babble on. I will defend my son to the end when I feel he is being treated harshly. I will have to say MOST people give him the understanding and dignity he deserves.

Asperger's Syndrome Mom said...

What's "funny" about this is that my son is considered rude if he states out in public that someone has bad breath (only because it's the nature of many with Asperger's to speak the painful truth) yet someone can tell me to quit babying my son and that's not considered rude! Frustrating to say the least.

Anonymous said...

How about some advice for the person who is partnered with this overly critical person.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...