People often say stupid things. We all do it at some point and thankfully others do understand. We make mistakes, we’re human. However there are times that I wished people had put more serious thought in to what they said or even stopped themselves from opening their mouths in the first place. Words can be inspiring, educational, uplifting and life changing. They can also be devastating and hurtful. Most of us will have been hurt by things others have said even if they never meant them to. I sat here thinking about the things that have been said to us in the past and there are three memories that stick, for the wrong reasons. Three different times I’ve been left speechless or angry. So here they are…
- “Don’t expect much from her, she’ll never read or write and I doubt she’ll ever speak” were the parting words to us as we left the office of a pediatrician that saw Eliza when she was just 2 years old. He refused to diagnose her because she was “Too young to be autistic….” **Insert eye roll here** but he happily wrote her off. How?? I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a crystal ball to see the future or a time machine to back up his awful comments. He simply decided she was nothing and would become nothing. What did we do? We changed pediatrician! One that allowed her grow and develop and believed in her and encouraged her. Eliza proves the first one wrong every single day. Her speech returned, she can write although her fine motor skills will always need working on and she’s very much aware that it’s a weaker point for her (She has a lot of anxiety at the thought of even holding a pen but she still tries, never gives up). As for never reading, she is 8 years old now and school recently informed me Eliza reads age 10-11 year level.
- “Are you not scared there will be something wrong with that one too?” was said to me whilst pointing at my baby bump 4 years ago (that is now Noah, Eliza’s younger brother). Let me tell you that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with Eliza. She’s not broken, she’s different. She is beautiful, feisty, intelligent, funny and caring. She is autistic. She is not to be feared (unless the Wi-Fi drops and then it’s every man, woman and child for themselves…..). It amazes me even now how many people fear autism and their eyes fill with pity as they open their mouths to say something most likely along the lines of ‘Oh, I’m so sorry…..’ and it’s just another reason why it’s important to raise autism acceptance and understanding.
- “Why don’t you adopt her out so you can get on with your life. You’re young enough to have another one and they might not turn out like her” is THE MOST HURTFUL THING I’LL EVER REMEMBER TILL THE DAY I DIE!!! A friend said that to me. A FRIEND! (Who I have never seen nor spoken to since that day). All because I had said we were having appointments with a pediatrician to determine if Eliza would be assessed for autism or not. She wasn’t even diagnosed yet someone I trusted and cared about thought it appropriate to tell me to give her away. Not only that, to replace her as if she were nothing! I still struggle with processing this memory even now. Back then, I said nothing. I walked away in shock and cried at home. These days I’d probably be arrested for causing a scene as I’d be up there on my soap box educating people loudly and firmly!
So there they are. The three moments that played a huge part in shaping me for the person I am today and in a knock on effect, shape the amazing and beautiful girl that’s currently stimming next to me and laughing at ‘Tom & Jerry’ on TV whilst also scripting from ‘Wreck it Ralph’. For a long time I hid away from friendships and socialising with people because in my head if friends could say such awful things, imagine what enemies could say!!! Thankfully now we’ve surrounded ourselves with an amazing bunch of people, some have become great personal friends. Eliza is thriving and loves life, she has friends and is doing really well at school. She didn’t deserve to be written off and how wrong they were to do so.