Holding a Grudge

Everyone encounters injustices in life, but sometimes it seems as if autism is a magnet for difficulties and conflict with agencies, teachers, insurance companies, doctors, schools, committees, and, sometimes, even society in general. What is the best response when we encounter criticism?

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Some of my friends with autism and their families have dealt with difficult people or inflexible policies over the years. For example, some parents have told me of a spouse, member of their extended family, neighbor, therapist, teacher, classroom aid, administrator, group home staff, job coach, or medical professional who has been judgmental or uncaring about their child. Some people in their lives have refused to accept their child, have been overly critical of the child or the parent, or have had unrealistic expectations.

Some families have encountered roadblocks from agencies and decision makers about issues such as funding services, providing critical services, considering appropriate placement, or other issues that impact the life of their loved one with autism.

Sometimes the attitudes or reactions of complete strangers can be the source of our anger when it comes to autism. For example, a grocery store clerk or a parent at a baseball game may glare at us or at our youngster in the midst of a meltdown. When we least expect it, we may overhear someone making a critical remark about our parenting skills or about our youngster with autism. I’ve heard young children blurt out a hurtful remark like, “What is wrong with that boy?” And I’ve heard adults say things like, “Why don’t his parents do something to stop that?”

How should we respond when this happens? How can we be expected to overlook such stinging, hurtful remarks? Over the past 40 years, my friends who have chosen to do just that, to ignore criticism and biting comments, have fared far better than those who hold grudges. You can waste a lot of energy holding a grudge against a person or an agency or society in general for injustices to your child with autism. Sometimes it is best to forgive and forget and move on. This includes forgiving a person who does not necessarily deserve forgiveness.

TIP FOR THE DAY: All of us, whether diagnosed with autism or not, can benefit from growing thick skin and forgiving people for their rudeness – whether they intended to hurt feelings or not. Just focus on the positive and purposefully choose to overlook the negative happenings in our lives.

We can also benefit from focusing on sharpening our own skills so we can more systematically address challenging issues that can arise in the lives of our friends with autism. Click on the Toolkit tab on our website for great resources; http://FAQautism.com

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com

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