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An autism-related apology to my readers

I'm an idiot.

Not really, but I have needlessly offended some readers, and I want to apologize. In my most recent post (which was published in the Sun Sentinel print edition on Aug. 26), I included a line that rubbed some readers the wrong way. I was writing about how my son, Leo, was playing appropriately with a toy helicopter and a toy truck (the helicopter was held in the air, the truck stayed on the floor). Parents of autistic children no doubt recognize that this is a good thing. What's unremarkable for most children is, for an autistic child, an encouraging sign. My wife was less impressed by this display than I was, likely because she has a better sense of what our son can do. So here's how I phrased it:
She looked at me as if I'd just figured out how to tell the hot water tap from the cold. Our son is on the autism spectrum, not the idiocy spectrum. Different, not less. He knows how to play with toys. What's the big deal?

If you read that to mean that I believe a child who cannot distinguish between a helicopter and a truck is an idiot, then I owe you an apology. It is not what I meant to convey. I am sorry that I chose words that caused you even an ounce of hurt.

What I intended to convey was that it should not have surprised me to see my son doing something he was capable of doing. That's where my wife and I differed. I doubted his capability. My wife did not. I compared it to me not knowing the hot water tap from the cold. You would expect me to know the difference, I should have expected Leo to know a helicopter from a truck.

There are children who are on the autism spectrum who would have trouble playing appropriately with toys. Leo is not in their company. But they are not idiots, and I never meant to imply that they were.

I appreciate your understanding.
Earlier: Holding Leo's Hand
Holding Leo's Hand: Reason to hope
Holding Leo's Hand: Little Big Things
Categories: Autism Spectrum (5), Rafael Olmeda 2012 (5)


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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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