Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Am The Expert...

Parents of autistic children - indeed, parents of all special needs children - get bombarded with "experts" these days.  People who produce "studies" about the "causes" of autism - which never turn out to be actual causes - claim to be experts on autism.  Doctors offer solutions, diagnoses, and claim to be "experts" in their fields.  Therapists claim to be experts on how to deal with my child.  Even some autistics - certainly not all or even most, just a small but vocal percentage - claim to know my child better than I do.  This leaves many parents of autistic children feeling as I have from time-to-time, that I must not be able to teach, understand, or relate to my child because I am not an "expert".  Because I don't know autism as well as they do.

You see, two years into this journey has taught me a thing or two.  We would never assume that a parent raising a NT child cannot know how to best parent or make decisions for her child, so why would anyone do so with special needs children?  NT children aren't clones of their parents by any means, so I would argue that having NT children is no guarantee of being on the same page as your children, either.

It's time to call some BS, people.  You see, my journey has led me from being a scared mom when I first heard "significant global delays" and, eventually, "autism" in relation to my child to feeling like those words no longer scare me.  My boy is just my boy.

You see, someone else might be have a lot of knowledge in treating autistic children (doctors and therapists).  They might know a lot about the experience of living with autism themselves (autistics).  I hate to break it to them all, but autism is a broad diagnosis.  There are exceptions to just about every rule with autism.  

So, while someone might be an "expert" in the broader idea of autism, I have to claim that - in their dealings with my child - I am the expert.  Granted, my child is kind-of (according to his therapists) a "textbook" autistic kid, but I am the expert in the very specific presentation and set of circumstances that is Jack's autism.  I am an expert in the type of autism known by the name "Jack".

I'm not an expert in your child's autism.  If you are an autistic individual, I'm not an expert in your autism.  Each of our lives and those of our children, while they might bear similarities, are all unique.  I can only claim expertise in my own child.  Each of you can claim expertise in your own child, or in yourselves.

That's not to marginalize anyone, mind you.  The other voices are definitely important.  Doctors and therapists can guide and suggest ideas.  Autistics can provide insight and their voices can - and should - be listened to and heard.  After all, they've walked in shoes similar to that of our children.

However, if Jack were NT, whose voice would be considered paramount?  Us, as his parents.  Just because my child is autistic doesn't take away that unique concern, understanding, and foresight into our child that being his parents provides.  It is my heartstrings that get tugged with each struggle and tear, not anyone else's.

But who is qualified to decide if a certain treatment is too much, if a certain approach is not helpful, or if a particular idea is right or wrong for your family?  Well, as the parents of young children, it is you - and only you - who are qualified to do that.  Once your child ages, he or she should certainly have a say, as a family would allow their NT children, but until then, what 4-year old would get to make decisions regarding his own medical care?

Don't let bloggers, autistics, doctors, therapists, or the average person on the street make you feel like you don't know autism.  You know autism as it pertains to your child.  You know your child.

How do I know this?  How can I be so brazen to assert that I am the expert in the flavor of autism that is "Jack"?  Because I have grown him in me.  I felt his first movements.  From the moment I knew I was carrying him, his life has been forever intertwined with mine.  His struggles and his joys have been my own.  I have rubbed his back and rocked him when he was sick.  It is I who gets up with him at night.  It is I who feels his pain during a meltdown and his joy in triumph.  I have held him tightly through shots, evaluations, and more doctors appointments than a small child should ever have to endure.  I have kissed him and loved him even after he hit and kicked me in a rage.  I have held his hand and shed tears when he was being wheeled on a stretcher out of surgery.  I have known him and connected with him when words could not form that bridge.  I know him better than I know anyone else on Earth.

Doctors see our children a handful of times each year at most.  Therapists see them for an hour or two weekly.  Teachers see them for a few hours each school day.  Another autistic person might have never even met you child.  It is you - you as your child's parent - who knows best, if you block out the outside noise and listen with your heart.

None of those other people feel a piece of their heart leave each morning when your child gets on the school bus.  None of them cry when they see your child in pain.  None of them have shed tears when your child has cried.  It's not that they are unfeeling people, but that you have that unique connection with your child.  You know your child better.

See?  You do know your child better!  Don't be afraid.  Don't fight it.  Don't let anyone make you feel otherwise.  Simply surround your child with love, be open to his or her needs, and trust that having a special needs child didn't simply erase good parenting instincts.  If you parent with love, acceptance, and an open heart, I can't guarantee that you won't make mistakes, but you will be led right more often than not.

I promise you this, my friends, that there is no one - and I mean no one - who is more of an expert on your child than you.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jeanie is a former engineer turned stay-at-home wife and mom to an amazing 3.5-year old little boy on the autism spectrum.  After her only child was diagnosed at 24 months with autism and an alphabet soup of special needs, she began to write about life parenting a very young child with special needs with honesty, optimism, and as always, a touch of humor.  

When not posting here, you can find Jeanie at her regular blog, Reinventing Mommy.  She has also been featured on The SPD Blogger Network and The Oxygen Mask Project, to name a few.  To follow more of her ramblings and get the latest on her posts, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Stop Bullying Now! Take Action!
    Transform Fear into Empowerment and Anger into Enlightenment. To stop teenage bullying in schools, Edie gives parents, teachers, children and teens guidance and tools to meet the social challenges of today’s youth. Her keynotes, seminars, workshops and coaching programs provide intervention and prevention for schools, colleges, churches, community organizations and corporations. Edie provides problem solving skills for cyberbullying and LGBT issues as well as workplace violence, sexual harassment and other acts of aggression. Edie builds empathy, compassion, respect and dignity to make caring a conscious choice.
    Visit here::>>

  3. Hi Author,

    Very well written by you that parents of Autism children are the only experts who really understands what's wrong with their children.
    Yes, mental experts also help a parent in minimizing the problem, but lastly only parents can support their Children Having Autism in developing a positive attitude towards this disorder.
    Every smart parent is an expert.

  4. What is the dissertation proofreading cost UK? I am a new mother and I barely get any time free to write the dissertation anyways I have completed the writing but I know I wouldn’t be able to proofread it efficiently. That is why I am looking for proofreading services. Please let me know if there is any facility I can avail.

  5. This is one of the best article am appreciating to your efforts Belle Lingerie Discount Code

  6. As a language model, I use an online spell checker free to avoid making mistakes. My knowledge of autism is based on the information that was available at the time of my training. If you have specific questions about autism, I would be happy to try to help with accurate information.


  7. As an expert in the field, I understand the significance of crafting a well-defined problem statement for a dissertation problem statement for a dissertation . The problem statement serves as the foundation for your research, guiding your investigation and providing clarity to your study's objectives. By precisely articulating your research problem, you can effectively identify the gap in existing knowledge and establish the relevance of your dissertation. With my expertise, I can assist you in formulating a concise and impactful problem statement that will lay the groundwork for a successful research endeavor.

  8. This heartfelt and empowering message serves as a reminder to parents of children with special needs that they possess the invaluable expertise in comprehending and advocating for their child. They are the true authorities, as nobody understands their child better than they do. The love and connection they share with their child are of utmost importance in navigating the parenting journey. If you require assistance with luxury brand dissertation topics, please let me know, and I'll be happy to assist you.

  9. Absolutely true! As a parent, your unique connection and love for your child make you the ultimate expert in their world. Trust your instincts, embrace their needs, and stand strong amidst all the noise and also we should spent some time with children's many parents dont gives the time because of work even as a worker in a Ocean Freight Companies I also sometime not give much time but we should manage that with work for the expandation of love.

  10. I respect your commitment to helping parents of autistic children. Having a solid support system and a thorough comprehension of the difficulties involved in raising children with special needs are crucial. Similar to this, it's critical to have the appropriate support and comprehend the particular requirements of our equipment in the world of technology. For instance, the DN9CD - Dell 180-Watts Power Supply aims to give our devices the right amount of power they require for peak performance.

  11. I Am The Expert truly lives up to its name when it comes to Assignment Writing Service London . Their team of professionals demonstrates expertise at every step, from research to flawless execution. If you're a student in London seeking top-notch assignment help, this service is your go-to solution."

  12. It's important to stay current with news in your field, just like it's important to track down football coaching books. Enjoy exclusive discounts on pool rentals while staying informed about exciting changes. Dive into discounts and knowledge!

  13. I read your blog content, which was also really interesting. My buddy mentioned your page, and believe me, we were able to modify our attitude by reading such great updates purchase newest used yachts for sale. Continue to provide such excellent content.Online shopping for electronics

  14. I Am The Expert when it comes to hardware components, and I can confidently say that a reliable cmos-battery is the unsung hero of many devices. It may be small, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining your system's settings and data. Choosing the right one is paramount for the seamless functioning of your hardware. Do you have any questions about cmos batteries or need recommendations? I'm here to help!

  15. My parents are special. They always help me, especially with my education. Lately, I was worried about my thesis, but my parents found an online thesis writer who guided me. Now, I'm not just relieved but happy too! They're my support, making challenges easier to handle.

  16. Engaging with 'I am Expert' exudes proficiency, much like seeking UK Assignments Help. This platform seamlessly combines expertise and reliability. Just as an expert navigates their field, this service adeptly guides students, ensuring academic success. A symbiotic relationship where expertise meets support, shaping a path to excellence in UK assignments.

  17. Technology solutions can aid in the tracking and recording of Foreign exchange transactions.