What You Should Not Say to Someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Someone asked this question on a question/answer website.  The following are ones that came to mind…


Autism? Really? Well, you should fix your brain.

Get Real! You don’t walk around in circles like my neighbor’s kid.

You look so normal to me.

 Could you just be a tad introverted?

Everybody’s got something on their plate.  (That’s true but telling me that is like giving me a lukewarm, instead of a cold rag for my raging fever.  It’s lame on comfort.)

BUT you can talk!  My brother’s wife’s cousin’s sister’s kid who has autism can’t say a word.

Quite frankly, I think you use autism as an excuse to get out of getting out.

Stop being so sensitive!  (that statement will triple my sensitivity)

Why don’t you just call instead of e-mail them?

Autism is so over-diagnosed these days, don’t you think?

How can you be so sure that you are on the Spectrum?  So you are a routine stickler, rock some, talk to yourself, like to be left alone, so what?  Everyone does stuff like that.

I hope it isn’t contagious.

What’s the difference between a pastor talking to God and a mentally ill person talking to oneself?

This was a question posted by someone on a website I frequently visit.  I felt compelled to answer it and below is my answer.

I am not a pastor but I do talk to myself and I talk to God too. There’s a difference. Just like there’s a difference between talking to my Mom vs. talking to my brother. I don’t address my brother as Mom when talking to him, for instance.  When I talk to God, I address Him as such.  When I talk to myself, I don’t feel it necessary to address myself.

In early December 2016, a 12-year-old girl caught my attention in an autism unit class where I was subbing for one of the aides. She was talking to herself in the middle of the classroom.  Observing her was the light bulb that led me to my own Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. The difference between me and the child is I know there are places and times that I should not talk to myself. I try not to do it in public but it wouldn’t be unusual, for instance, to be caught talking to myself while taking a walk in the park. I pray, too, in the park. If there were a video camera in my bedroom or whenever I am by myself, one would see a lot of me doing the self-talk. If I saw myself on camera, I would be “weird” to me too.

I can’t prove that my prayers get beyond the ceiling. When I’ve prayed, I’ve yet to hear a voice answer back. I recall one time praying for something unusual and later thinking maybe I was silly asking for it. But I didn’t take back my prayer. I was high as a kite when before the day was over, the “silly” prayer was answered. Some would say it was just luck. Just a chance occurrence.  I have no visible proof that my prayer was heard and answered from Heaven. Or, that there is even such a place to begin with. It’s a matter of faith. I suppose that’s why the word “faith” isn’t a hard word to find in the Bible.

Scoot Like No One Is Watching

I took up scooter riding during the spring of 2018.  I can understand someone thinking it is an odd sport for someone approaching 60.  It is just an addition to my long-held obsession with most any gadget that is electric or battery-operated.  I call this obsession “gadgetitis”.  I am into “nicknames” too.  I gave the nickname “Billy” to my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  An inventory of my bedroom is visible proof of my gadgetitis:  multiple computers, TVs, vacuum cleaners, etc.  Within a month or two after my scooter obsession began, I owned not one, not two, not three, not four, but five.
Scooters first came into my life on a school day subbing for a P.E. aide.  The coach put out some scooters which are, by the way, a highly popular piece of equipment with the students.  I don’t recall them being around when I was growing up back in the 1960’s.  There were roller skates back then that I fell for back in my younger days.  I mean “fell” as in landing on the floor in a painful sort of way.  A lack of gross motor skills, a common ASD trait, explained a lot of what activities I didn’t pursue as a kid.  Back to the present, since the kids were not in the gym yet, and thus no witnesses besides the coach who was really busy at the time, I plopped down on a scooter like the two pictured below.  I liked the feel of it!  And when I like something, I go way, way overboard.  There’s no middle ground for me living with my Billy.
I am having so much fun with these scooters.  The downside is in a city of 143,000 people, I haven’t seen any other folks in my age group riding a scooter.  Only a handful of young folks.  I’ve seen just a few my age riding a bicycle.  I suspect it has more to do with the sidewalk conditions of my neck of the woods.  I didn’t realize how “cracked up” my neighborhood was until I took up scooter riding.
One of my experiences worth mentioning was when I was approaching a bridge at a school park.  There was a young Mom with her two little girls.  The children were on the opposite side of the bridge from their Mom.  The youngest girl, probably two or three, heard me coming and she hurriedly scooted over to the other side of the bridge to literally hide behind her Mom’s skirt.  Her Mom smiled as I scooted by.  A wise little girl!  If her Mom had known my motor skill history, she would have skedaddled with girls in hand.
Another time when I was out with Seggie (the Segway Mini-Pro) at a park, a guy walking by saw me taking Seggie out of the back of my car.  He asked, “Are you going to ride that thing?”  Since I’m not quick on my feet with a good comeback answer, I just said with my Texas accent “Yeah.”  But thinking about it later, I could have come up with another answer such as “No, I’m going to take it for a walk.”
Scooting is a sport in itself.  There are do’s and don’t and one too many of them I have learned the hard way.  Just when I am overconfident, I take a fall and get a good dose of humility.
Once after a fall, I went out with my pink scooter I affectionately call “Pinkie”.  There weren’t any kids around but a few adults taking a walk.  They were so gracious to give me the right of way when I passed by.  Maybe they were nervous at seeing a gray-haired woman on a scooter with an arm brace.  If they had noticed the word in bold letters on my blue t-shirt, they would have had a hint as to why I was on a scooter that is made with “millennials” in mind.  The word:  AUTISM.  Below: “AWARENESS.”
When I got home, I told my Mom the story.  She said, “You’re something else.”  I’ll agree with her on that.  Not only me but all my fellow travelers on the Spectrum.  My main reason for writing this blog is to say that those of us with ASD are not exempt from having fun.
Finally, my best advice for my fellow scooters is when you feel an itch, like on your face, it is best to stop and take care of the itch instead of itching while on the scooter with the motor running.

Pros and Cons of ASD

My personal list of what’s good and not so good of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


  • Hearing someone say “But you seem so normal to me.”
  • Sitting in an audience with no graceful exit out
  • Can’t focus long enough to read a page without my mind drifting off thinking about anything and everything other than what is on the page
  • The frustration and panic of being given a string of verbal instructions — “draw me a picture, will ya?”
  • Desperately wanting time alone but not getting it soon enough to avert a meltdown.
  • Boredom
  • Social misfit


But don’t forget those awesome advantages:

  • Finding THE skill that I can master as if I was born to do it
  • Creative and open-minded
  • Detail-oriented
  • Dependable (a clear list of written instructions, rules, schedules are welcomed)
  • Organized to a tee

An engineer gave his pro and con of ASD in a nutshell:  High IQ and social ineptness.  It is a trade-off. Being an engineer is not too bad… 🙂

Well, being a substitute teacher’s aide where I get to hang out with many like myself is not too bad either.