Editor’s Note: The thoughts expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Autism Journey. We are a community of parents and we all have the right to express ourselves freely and without judgement, which may seem offensive to others.
Why I Resent My Friend’s Son
I resent my friends autistic son. There, I said it. Before you go bat-shit crazy, just hear me out. I too have a son with autism.
“Huh? I don’t get it”, is probably what you’re thinking. It might make a little more sense to you after I explain.
My friend is lovely. We met at a parent group about two years ago and we instantly clicked. She was very informative and knowledgable when it came to navigating the autism world. I turned to her anytime I had a question about service providers, centre based programs, therapies and so forth. She was someone I came to respect and admire.
Having a non-verbal child with limited understanding of the world around him is another beast.
Her child is around the same age as mine, and since our children were close in age, I felt we had so much in common. However, that’s where it ended.
Her son is verbal. My son is not.
Her son is in a mainstream classroom. My son is not.
Her son is toilet trained. My son is not.
Her son eats a large variety of foods. My son does not.
Her son is able to learn to ski and do gymnastics. My son cannot.
Can you see where I’m going here? Am I a horrible person for sharing my true feelings? Maybe, I don’t know.
Sure, my friend has her share of struggles and challenges, I won’t say she doesn’t. But when she complains or vents about her child, I think “you have no idea how good you have it”. Having a non-verbal child with limited understanding of the world around him is another beast. There is no way she can understand my struggles and difficulties.
My child will smear his feces on the walls and all over himself. He will literally play with his poop and when I see this I’m horrified and angry. I feel very defeated and resentful and I just wonder “why me?” In addition to all of that, my son hasn’t made many gains over the last year. I have him in every therapy imaginable, but nothing seems to have clicked in his complicated brain. Is all of this early intervention worth the cost and aggravation of me having to leave work early to take him from appointment to appointment when I see absolutely zero progress?
He will only eat one kind of pasta, crackers and grape juice. Seriously, that’s it. He refuses to eat anything else and I worry he will get scurvy, no joke. The foods he eats have very little to no nutritional value whatsoever. What am I to do?
Maybe it’s not my friends son I resent, but my own child. I must seem like the most awful mother in the world, but when I decided to start a family, this wasn’t part of the plan.
There’s a saying that goes “God only gives you what you can handle” – well, I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.
I love my child, he is a beautiful little guy and I really do have hope that he will talk and exceed my expectations one day. But having an autistic child is challenging, difficult and stressful. When I hear parents say “autism is a gift” or “autism rocks”, I wonder, what am I missing here? Why can’t I be in on this? I desperately want to feel this way too.
In the grand scheme of things, I wouldn’t trade my child for anything. I’m in a bad place right now, but it won’t last forever. These feelings come and go.
I’m only human.
Thanks for your honesty. I have two sons with autism, one is verbal and one is not. I have struggled a lot with my son who is verbal. He was developing typically until 18 months and then lost a lot of his language skills. He has a lot of sensory issues that other people don’t see which he resulted in huge meltdowns when getting dressed or changing nappies to the point where I would get physically hurt. He has picked up a lot more words now and can mostly communicate his needs. He still has meltdowns, we still struggle but I can see hope for the future.
My non-verbal son I struggle with every single day. He can’t tell me his basic needs or anything at all and the meltdowns are worse and last for longer. My heart is broken when I see him struggle and I feel frustrated that nothing can just be simple. I keep praying he will talk one day and all I can do is take it one day at a time. When I think about the future I sink into a depression. Don’t feel bad for your feelings. I’m living with both and although my verbal son is challenging, I would give anything in the world for my other son to talk and have his brothers level of understanding.
Lots of hugs to you xxx
Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate that you can relate to my situation. I think the non-verbal aspect is what gets me most. I just want to know what he’s thinking and feeling and I’m devastated that I cannot have a conversation with my own child. It sounds like you have your challenges with two ASD kids, I hope you’re getting all of the help and support you need.
Thank you again.
Lori and Jodie, I wasn’t sure I should write to you with a controversial idea. However, you are both such amazing moms in terrible agony about your children, that I felt that I had to reach out to you and maybe ease your suffering a little. Have you considered supported typing, also known as facilitated communication (“FC”)? There’s been a lot of bad press about it being false hope, that the facilitator is actually influencing the child’s hand and is the one doing the typing. My 11-year-old son has severe autism, with virtually no language, except isolated words like “iPad” and “cookie”. His affect and demeanor is like a five-year-old, despite his large size. We were introduced to FC at his last school (after removing him from an ABA-only school that started out OK but then turned into a complete disaster because they just could not control his aggressive behaviors). To our amazement, he started typing about his likes and dislikes, his feelings, his opinions, the most profound thoughts. He also typed about personal preferences (“Chocolate”) and facts that the teacher could not have known about, such as the color of his room (“The ceiling is white and the walls are blue.”) When asked why he has melt-downs and hurts us, he typed, “I can’t help it” and started to cry. FC is not a cure-all; the desire to communicate is ours, not usually our kids’, and they may resist what they feel is a demand. My son, for example, refuses to type with me at this point. (When asked why not, he typed, “Mom is too tense.” Well, he is right about that!) However, I think that both of you as your kids’ loving moms will both have extra peace of mind if you do in fact get a glimpse of the deeper mind that may be locked in that autistic body and give him a tool to express himself. If he is not ready, or does not have the capacity or willingness, no harm done and you can always try again in the future if you want. Do some research, join a group on Facebook, speak with other families using FC or RPM and see if this might be a fit for your son. If you need a referral to my son’s teacher, even for a consultation over the phone, let me know. I wish you both every blessing. Whatever you decide to do, never give up hope!
I needed to read this today. After another morning of dropping off my hf asd child to school and trying to conceal my adrenalin fuelled anxiety as he is literally bolting away while my 2 year old is having a meltdown and I all I see is the rest of the 5/6 year olds sitting with their parents (who are staring at me with equal amounts of pity and judgement), I was so full of frustration and resentment.
I am thankful that he is verbal, even if it is mostly in non sequitars or just running scripts.
Stay strong, Jess. We’ve all been there.
Yep I get all of this even the comment about the 5 year old kid bolting while the other kids are happily standing with their parents I have a 4 year old non verbal boy he used to have some words but nothing in almost a year it’s awful a constant dark cloud. I don’t have anything encouraging to say except you’re not alone and each day is so much to handle. Each day!
Today I tried to put my son in special needs camp and he got kicked out already for breaking the overhead lights. I know how it feels to resent your child and resent those around you. I am torn between resentment and guilt on a daily basis and I’m emotionally exhausted. It’s hard to have the person you love most in the world also be the one who brings you the most negative emotions as well. It’s a roller coaster ride! You said it, it’s a dark place, but remember it’s only temporary and then the light shines through again!
Thank you for being so open in sharing your feelings. I hope you have a great network of support around you, e.g. friends and family. It sounds like you’re doing the best you can as a parent, and I applaud you.
I have a family member who I and others think may be on the autism spectrum. We witnessed his behaviour throughout the years, and we’ve heard and read about symptoms and other people’s experiences, where he indeed sounds like them. However, his parents don’t believe he is autistic, so they haven’t reached out for support either. Like your son, my family member does not eat a large variety of foods. Even when there are birthday celebrations, he won’t eat the cake (not even one bite) and only be part of pictures (if he’s in the space). He won’t say “happy birthday” (unless you explicitly tell him to) either and he would immediately go to his room if the party’s at his house. He doesn’t have the desire for change including trying different foods, and he doesn’t show general interest to his surroundings if the party is not at his home. He would watch a YouTube video repeatedly of a kids cartoon character and giggle to himself (he’s over 10 and that cartoon character is targeted for little kids (2-4 years old), which he hasn’t moved on from) on a sofa, instead of let’s say showing any curiosity to what other people are watching on TV in the same room as him.
I don’t feel strong resentment towards my family member, but I feel there are times where expectations of whatever is considered normal for neurotypical children his age shouldn’t be placed on him. There was a time when I was outdoors with him and my sibling, where my sibling began to feel unwell. The original plan was to go somewhere but my sibling needed to use the bathroom. I waited patiently outside the bathroom door, while my family member was far from the two of us because he was fixated on that destination. Even when the three of us got picked up (my sibling couldn’t even walk all the way home), my family member still didn’t realize my sibling was feeling unwell. And when we came home, our other relatives crowded around my sibling with concern while he was faraway again. I feel that he didn’t register that something was wrong and he probably didn’t like crowded spaces, but he didn’t really show he cared for my sibling either. When I think of this incident, I feel that he really wasn’t reliable and I’m not sure if I can trust him moving forward to tell me if anything is wrong or if someone needs help.
His mom does tell him when to do stuff and I’ve done that before as well, but he really just doesn’t understand the ‘why.’ I’m not sure if he understands after I explain why too, because he doesn’t maintain eye contact and it’s like he doesn’t register to answer at times unless you tell him to. He chooses to talk when he’s protesting or requesting something from you (e.g. he wouldn’t ask verbally for food when he’s the guest at someone’s house, or he would just pause and say one word like “water”). I’ve modelled language to him before, where I would speak a full sentence and then have him repeat after me. But it would be nice to hear his thoughts on his own in general, when he’s not asking for an item or when he doesn’t want to do something. I struggled to help him on a creative writing assignment before because he just stared until I said suggestions, which he then repeated one of them after me, and then he wrote my ideas on paper. He missed words in his sentences, which I corrected as well.
He is mostly quiet or says a few words around people, but when he gets angry…it feels like an explosion. There was a time when he was playing a game with a relative close in age. Long story short, he kicked this relative on the leg and cried. It was understandable for him to be unhappy by a comment the relative made and that he eventually lost in the game, but it really happened so suddenly when he got upset like that. I’ve seen his anger appear another time when he yelled so loudly at a kid, he would persistently question a small mistake they made and even follow after them. He didn’t seem to mind that there was a guest (or bystander) who witnessed all that. I recognize he wants to be understood but he struggles to communicate that, hence his moments of anger.
Although I’m not in the same situation as you and I don’t think I interact with my family member as much as you do with your son, I like the fact that you said “I’m only human.” It’s human for us to be frustrated by challenges. Wondering “why me?” was relatable. Even though my family member is not my son, I did feel defeated when I tried to help him with homework where I felt like there was a wall I didn’t know how to work with. I feel that even though he’s over 10 years old, there hasn’t been significant progress on the way he communicates and behaves around people. I wonder about his socialization in the future, such as if he would be open to eating at restaurants with friends (once this pandemic is taken care of). I wonder if he would ever approach me first to start a general conversation, whether that’s a new haircut or being curious at all about what I’ve been watching. I feel that his way of bonding is by being in the same room as me, yet I don’t have high hopes either that we could have a more reciprocal relationship. Maybe someday.
(If anyone has tips on what I could do when I’m with him, I’m open to reading!)