I wanted to address something that can be really frustrating for me and that’s unsolicited advice. I also know it’s fairly common for Autism families to get unsolicited advice, usually from well meaning people, but not always.
I totally understand that I put myself out there by writing about my family. I get that opens me up to comments from people who read. I accept that because I’ve been doing this for well over a decade now and I’ve been around the block a few times.
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Here’s the thing. Parents like myself, tend to get unsolicited advice from people about our lives, our kids, our finances, and the decisions we need to make. We are frequently told we’re doing something wrong by people who haven’t a clue what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. I get it all the time here, sometimes at the grocery store, from well meaning friends or family, and even complete stranger while we’re in a restaurant.
If you were to poll Autism parents (and I am above) and ask if they like getting the unsolicited advice, my experience tells me that they would overwhelmingly say no.
You have to understand that I get this everywhere I go and have for years. Most of the time I just smile and say thank you because it’s simply not worth it. Sometimes the unsolicited advice can end up being positive but it’s all in the approach.
I write this blog is a very specific way and I do that on purpose. What some take as me being negative or depressing, is more often than not, me sharing things in a way that resonates with other families in similar circumstances.
When it comes to my kids, I’m an expert. Most parents are experts in their own kids. Better than anyone else, I know what works and what doesn’t.
Very rarely are things solved with a simple solution. If it would have worked, it would have likely already been done.
Many of the problems faced by Autism and Special Needs parents are very complex. From the outside it may seem like an easy fix but it usually isn’t. There are so many things to take into consideration that most people wouldn’t even think of.
Is there room for improvement in my life? Of course there is. I think that applies to most people.
I’ve spent the last 15 or so years in an endless game of parenting trial and error. The list of things that will work with my kids is infinitely shorter than the list of things that do. There are even sublists as well.
There’s an offshoot of the things that work list that contains things that work but create more problems than they solve. There’s another offshoot of things that worked once but never again. Those are things that anyone else wouldn’t take into account because they lack the first hand experience of living my life, raising my kids, as well as dealing with the consequences of making the wrong decision.
So many people want to help and I get that. One of the things I’ve tried to explain is that helping only helps if it’s something the other person needs. I’ve written many times about ways you can help an Autism family. The goal was to help those who want to help an Autism family in their life, to do so in a way that actually makes a difference. Even those are guidelines because every Autism family is different.
Even well intentioned help can be misguided and that can end up making things worse for the family in question. That actually happen quite a bit.
I don’t write this blog because I’m looking for help or advice. It may appear as though I’m asking a question but I’m trying to carefully word things in a way that will benefit the most people.
When I talk about financial issues or frustrations, I’m not looking for budget help or criticism. I’m writing about what’s happening in the moment and how it makes me feel. The point is, others will read it and realize they aren’t the only ones struggling in that area or being faced with the same types of decisions. That simple recognition can provide someone with a profound sense of comfort.
I’m never going to be able to educate the world in a way that makes a meaningful difference. My goal is to provide insight for people who aren’t dealing with the same issues. Unless I specifically ask for advice, I’m not looking for it. I simply hope that the insight a reader has gained can somehow be applied to someone in their life.
One of the biggest compliments I can receive is oftentimes from Grandparents. They tell me all the time that until they read my blog or watched my YouTube channel, they didn’t understand what their son or daughters family was dealing with or going through. They didn’t understand how Autism could impact the lives of their loved ones or how completely exhausting a meltdown can be.
I often hear that they had thought their son or daughter was overreacting or being dramatic about what they’re struggling with. Reading my struggles, helped them gain perspective and it changed the way they approached Autism in their lives, improving the relationship with their son or daughter in the process.
I couldn’t ask for better validation for how and why I do things the way I do.
Am I always right? Hell no… Do I have a great deal of real life experience and know better what’s best for my kids than most people stumbling across this blog? Hell yes.
Do I make mistakes? Absolutely. Do I need or want those mistakes point out to me by those that read this Blog? Nope, not usually. Myself, along with most other Autism parents are hard enough in themselves. They don’t need any help in that area.
The whole point is that I get enough unsolicited advice. Most Autism parents get their fill of unsolicited advice. While I appreciate that most are well intentioned, it’s almost never as simple as it appears.
One the things I tell people is that you can’t always apply a simple solution to a complex problem. It just doesn’t work that way, at least most of the time. If the solution was a simple, obvious one, we wouldn’t be dealing with the problem because it would have already been solved.
Please understand that sometimes the absolute best thing someone can do, is simply listen and let the person know that you don’t get it, because you aren’t living it but that you’re thinking about them. Rather than offer advice, ask what you can do to help. That’s very likely to come across better and be received in a positive way.
Just something to think about.