Why I prioritize empathetic honesty over protecting parents' feelings - ADHD Dude - Ryan Wexelblatt

 

𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗜 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘇𝗲 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀' 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀

I spent many years working with kids diagnosed with Asperger's and higher-verbal autism in schools, my private practice, school year programs and camp. I spoke at many regional autism conferences and the Autism Society National Conference. I loved the kids/families I had the privilege of working with.

There is an unspoken rule for professionals in the autism world that I eventually stopped following as my experience and professional confidence grew.

The unspoken rule:
𝘿𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝗱𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗱𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗼-𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗿𝗲𝗻. 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗼𝗿𝘀, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗼𝗿. (To be clear, I would never blame or judge any parent for these behaviors. They naturally develop in many, if not most families of kids with autism, yet are never discussed publicly.)

During my supervision for my clinical license I shared with my supervisor (who is also the mother to a son with Asperger's) that I was increasingly struggling with following that unspoken rule.

She framed this for me perfectly:
"𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘯'𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘭𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘱. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘭𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵.

She was 100% accurate, and that was when I knew I needed to leave the autism field. While there are families of kids with ADHD with the same parent-child dynamics, I knew from experience that more parents would be receptive to me not adhering to the unspoken rule.

I decided I wanted to share my professional and personal experience of being a father to a once very challenging kid because I didn't see anyone on social media breaking the unspoken rule.

I appreciate you being here, despite the fact I'm trying to give you the whole cake, instead of just the frosting flower on the top. 🎂

Comments