Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Admitting special needs and saying “autism” is hard

When I was younger, I engaged my coworkers.  I cared about what they said, I went to happy hour with them, and genuinely gave a shit and wanted to be friends both inside and outside of the workplace.

Not so much anymore.

Which meant that I missed a chance to bring Our Land closer to reality this week.  I had the opportunity to spread autism spectrum awareness, or – at the very least –  inform a co-worker about speech and language delays in children.  In my child.

And I didn’t take it.

There I was, working away, minding my own business.











A coworker approached to ask me some random boring stuff that I won’t kill you with by going into.

The subject of school came up.

Which obviously led to him asking me about my son’s school.  Although I did my best to wiggle my way out of the upcoming conversation by giving my computer screens really intense concentration looks, he didn’t take the hint.

And…I didn’t know what to say. While I wouldn’t say that Tucker’s issues are a secret at work, they’re sort of a secret at work.  The thing is, I’m only there part-time and have only worked there for three months.  It’s likely that in a traditional full-time setting, I would have lunched with most of these people several times.  I haven’t lunched with any of them.  There’s also the issue that this particular coworker has kids, is almost 20-years younger than I am and knows everything in the way that the rest of us used to when we were barely 20.  I had to think about what to say, because he obviously wasn’t going to read my mind and just walk away.

Saying the word autism out loud can be hard.  Saying that Tucker’s delays fall on the autism spectrum but that we aren’t sure whether he’s actually autistic because he makes good eye contact and likes to snuggle feels like a dismissal or a cop-out and just gets more awkward.  People don’t understand and while I realize that it’s my job to inform them that autism and special needs don’t always look like Rain Man, sometimes I just don’t have the energy, the time or the patience.  There are times when I simply don’t feel like explaining that my totally awesome little boy is perfect in a different way.  Still perfect.  But different.

So instead of explaining that the autism spectrum is huge and that people fall on it in different areas and please don’t pity me, I just said something dumb like “Um, well, he has a speech and language delay.”

Coworker asked what that meant.  Which was a little annoying so I said “it means he doesn’t speak as well as other children his age.” (gah)

Which meant that coworker looked like this.  Which is the whole damn look I was trying to avoid in the first place.

That look with pity written all over a person’s face just plain sucks.

As if this stupid conversation was proving to me exactly how stupid it could get, he went into a recover-the-conversation-mode.

He told me that he used to stutter as a child, chuckled, and looked really proud of himself for coming up with this reassuring nugget of hope for me.  Aaaaand…WTF to say to that.  So, being the completely socially awkward I-wish-this-conversation-never-began-in-the-first-place pal that I am, I said the first dumbass thing to pop in my head.

Yup. I told him that he sounds fine now.  In a pathetic attempt to bring the conversation back around even though I should have feigned illness and sprinted to the bathroom right then and there, I offered up another little nugget.

Sadly, I did not sprint to the bathroom and instead shared that Robert was in remedial reading in first grade.  How I thought this would further do anything but make me look even more stupid and make my devil-angel wish she had a different human, I have no idea.

At this point, coworker either walked away or space aliens kindly erased my memory because that’s the last part of the conversion I can remember.


Huh.  This post ended up going in a bit of a different direction than I’d planned.  Should I even try to bring it back around?  I vote no.  I hope you’re okay with that.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.  The sentence is “When I was younger, I…”


  • The Sadder But Wiser Girl - I’m terrible at making small talk with people, so I feel your pain. What comes out of my mouth is often ridiculous and my thoughts really closely resemble what you drew over your head.

    I’ve had the outright questions from many people: Is your son autistic? Is he on the spectrum? All I can do is respond with a qualified “Um, maybe, we always have thought that. He IS ADD though.” Which people never get, because no one seems to understand that ADD is NOT the same as ADHD. “Oh he seems so calm…” Yes he’s not climbing the ceiling because he DOESN’T HAVE ADHD.

    Thank you for sharing this story my dear. Love the pictures, as always…May 17, 2013 – 12:21 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Sadder Sarah,
      I’m so glad that I’m not alone! That sucks that people don’t listen when you say he has ADD and that they then wonder why he’s not climbing the walls. People can be dumb. And I think you’re pretty darn great at making small talk over here! 😀May 17, 2013 – 12:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I so used to care what people thought at work too before having kids and could so relate to that, too Kristi. And I think this conversation would have so made me feel uncomfortable with this person you described (and drew so perfectly, too). So, don’t be too hard on yourself for that and do think you are doing the best job as Tucker’s mom and protecting from the likes of some of your co-workers who wouldn’t understand and possibly even be a bit critical of him. Not saying everyone would, but possible some might now be as understanding and might even make you feel more uncomfortable then it is worth (just human nature I suppose). Didn’t say it was right by any means, but unfortunately not all are as educated. Thank you seriously so very much for linking this up with us.May 17, 2013 – 12:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Janine,
      Thanks so much for your uber-kind comment. You’re right that people may even be critical of Tucker which would suck and make me have to beat them up and stuff. Thanks for hosting!May 17, 2013 – 12:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Oh dumb ass….you are not a dumb ass at all. I think it is hard because work is the one place you are not Tucker’s therapist, doctor, mom. At work you are just Kristi. I don’t have this issue at work, they probably feel I am TOO out there with Boo and my sharing. But I worked here before Boo.

    You know, I hope, that we do not always have to be the advocate.May 17, 2013 – 12:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Kerri,
      Hey I never thought about it like that – that work is the one place I get to just be Smart Me and not Tucker’s Mommy Me who has to tell people about maybe-proably autism. Great point, thank you!!
      And me, too, friend, about not always having to be the advocates. Me, too…May 17, 2013 – 12:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - First of all, it’s you that is awesome and I want to write something for your series.

    I am SO glad you decided to go this direction with your post and for the most selfish reasons too. It made me feel so much better about reacting EXACTLY the same way had this happened to me. Sorry, I know that this is not very Our Land either. I completely identify with the whole thought process at first of how to present this to douchy coworker then your answers which seemed so inadequate to you, but actually show that you put other people’s feelings and comfort first, this was all painfully recognizable. This is such a great post, it is difficult to talk about autism and with your brilliant cartoons you make it a much lighter conversation and manage to educate your readers about life with Tucker.May 17, 2013 – 1:37 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Katia,
      Really? OOH I’m so excited that you want to write something for my series!! YAY!! Thank you for your awesomely epic comment – and yeah, not really Our Land today but sometimes? I think that’s okay. And love how you saw that he’s douchy without me having to say the word douchy in the post. 😀May 17, 2013 – 1:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Can I laugh that this was your FTSF post?May 17, 2013 – 1:39 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Kenya,
      You can totally laugh that this was my FTSF post.May 17, 2013 – 1:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Dang I wasn’t finished typingMay 17, 2013 – 1:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Ugh stupid commenting from phone – I’ll be backMay 17, 2013 – 1:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Kenya,
    Pretty sure it’s my turn to laugh at you trying to comment from your phone now.May 17, 2013 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Dani Ryan - OMG, I’m DYING over here. That is exactly how I am in social settings. And I always have the pit stains as well. So, so awful. But so, so funny after the fact when you retell it on your blog. 🙂

    I used to care what people thought about me, too, and I made an effort to know stuff about people. I even remembered birthdays. Now? Not so much. 🙂May 17, 2013 – 1:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Dani,
    Glad to hear I’m not the only one. Hubs is gonna kill me when he reads how I threw him under a bus with remedial reading to try and get out of an awkward conversation. Nah, he never reads this blog anymore so I’m likely safe. Yeah, I don’t remember birthdays so much anymore either. And I’m okay with that.May 17, 2013 – 1:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Shay - I think this post turned out beautifully! You shed some light on the types of things NOT to say–and you did it in a funny but serious way (I LOVE “pit stains”!!). That shows what an awesome writer you are–and how much you know about your subject. You rocked it, girlfriend!May 17, 2013 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Shay,
      Aw thanks sweets. You are awesome. Seriously truly.May 17, 2013 – 2:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - This is how I talk all the time. Totally socially awkward. But you really don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. You’re doing a lot for your son, and that’s what’s important!May 17, 2013 – 1:56 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Jessica,
      Thank you for the reminder that I’m not alone!May 17, 2013 – 2:17 pmReplyCancel

  • clark - lol (total FTSF Post envy!)

    …as to the actual situation (as opposed to the graphically- told story*), I can identify with the feeling of the situation, at least the sense of ‘what? why are you asking me questions? what part of never sharing personal information before are you missing?”
    Reading your story, the thing that strikes home the most is the feeling of amazement that people feel the license to ask ‘follow-up/give-me-more-detail kind of questions.

    *which I also envy the drawing-speakMay 17, 2013 – 1:59 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Clark,
      Love how you said “what part of never sharing personal information before are you missing?” I wish I had the guts to say that out loud! And yeah, people are weird. Me included, perhaps.May 17, 2013 – 2:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Alexa (katbiggie) - I love how you are able to take such a sensitive subject and make it humorous. I know something about awkward conversations as well, and I think you did well! Pit sweat and all!! 🙂May 17, 2013 – 2:15 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Thanks, Alexa! Awkward conversations suck and seem to be pretty frequent for me recently.May 17, 2013 – 2:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - The irony would be if his expression was because your comments made him think of the spectrum but he wasn’t sure if he should mention it because you said “delay” and he didn’t want to freak you out if you hadn’t thought of it as a possibility?? You just never know. I actually let out a snort laughing when you got to the point of dragging your poor innocent hubs into the conversation. That’s the thing – you think it might be awkward to bring it up around others, but you don’t know their situation either, so who care. You could end up helping them out. [#FTSF]May 17, 2013 – 3:13 pmReplyCancel

  • MJM - Keeping spreading the good word girl…let the world know it’s okay. I’m sure it’s tough but you’re no weakling…you’re a fiighter and totally kick donkey. Unfortunately most people fear it only because they don’t understand it.May 17, 2013 – 3:17 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - It’s your business and yes it could’ve been a teachable moment but being part time there I understand why you didn’t feel the need to educate.May 17, 2013 – 4:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Menopausalmother - Kristi, this post is amazing. You’ve allowed us into a private part of your world and educated us on what to say (or not to say) in this situation. I’ll bet there are a lot of insensitive people in this world who wouldn’t get it, either. But to be fair, a lot of people really have no clue what autism is, and have no idea how to respond to parents with autistic kids. I think you handled this situation the best way possible–and I know this must have been a difficult conversation to have. On a lighter note, the drawings you included were SO FUNNY—brought a smile to my face. You are such a good writer, my friend. I’m so happy we’ve connected in the blogosphere! XOMay 17, 2013 – 4:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - Well, I laughed out loud at that one! And even if the post did go in a different direction than you intended, I personally think you did a superb job (oy, that sounds weird) of explaining what soooo many of us feel when our kids have special needs and we’re talking to someone who doesn’t know, and we don’t necessarily want them to know, because yes, we know we’re going to get that pity look. Ugh, I hated that. The good news is that I have found that I’ve become more skilled at either trying to avoid those conversations altogether, or I have more prepared answers that don’t leave me feeling awkward and annoyed. Some people just don’t “get it” and they never will. Others do, whether or not they themselves have a child with special needs, and those people will be the ones you can talk to freely.May 17, 2013 – 4:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Ichikawa Somers - Yeah, it can suck being a 24-7 advertisement for special needs awareness. I think your responses were just fine, warranted the situation, and should no longer be stressed over. Happy Friday!May 17, 2013 – 4:25 pmReplyCancel

  • K - OMG you handled this situation so much more eloquently than I would have! I would have been at a complete loss for words. Something kind of similar happened to me a few years ago…I was at a Thanksgiving gathering, and a woman that I didn’t know asked me if I did any sports. I said, “No, they aren’t exactly my thing, if you know what I mean,” and tried to laugh it off, hoping that she would take the hint and drop the subject. I was praying that would be the end of it but THEN. THEN she was all pity-faced (your pity-face illustration was PERFECTION in a drawing, by the way…that’s exactly what this woman looked like too!) and she said, “Ohhhh yeah, I saw you walking….it’s a shame that a beautiful girl like you has to walk like that!” Cue the awkward silence….I tried to come up with some sort of coherent response, but all that came to mind was, “WTF?” I wanted to dive under the table!

    Anyway, I think you handled yourself amazingly well considering how awkward of a situation that was! xoMay 17, 2013 – 4:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Lori Lavender Luz - {{{{{{Kristi}}}}}}}}. Smetimes good intentions count. Like when you suddenly have to merge parts of your work- and home- lives.

    I think you did fine in the moment. It was a tough moment! I, too, have been on the receiving end of The Pity Face and sometimes would say anything to avoid that.

    You’re a good mama.

    And a good co-worker (I should know 🙂 )May 17, 2013 – 4:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I’m back…. Anyway, I hate small talk. I don’t know what’s worse – filling it in with more small talk our having that awkward one mississippi two mississippi three mississippi gap of silence while you try to think of something to say. Like when someone tries to small talk me about religion or politics – I’m like hey I go to church and I voted – I don’t know EVERYTHING. And I really hate running into my old coworkers and them asking what are you up to now. Do I really want to hand them a business card that says I blog? I do, but I don’t. I totally feel you on the sweaty pits moments.

    On the serious side – you continue to teach me lessons through this journey of yours. Keep sharing!

    And just one more laugh for the road that this was your FTSF post.May 17, 2013 – 4:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Outsmarted Mommy - I love this post! I love your honesty that these conversations can in fact be awkward and that the pity look is the WORST! Your pictures and commentary though had me laughing so hard. As always well done. 🙂May 17, 2013 – 4:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Maggie Amada - I think you handled the situation just fine. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Talking to people is so very hard. We feel like we’re being judged or pitied or whatever. I try not to let it get to me because I’ve been on the other side where I’m thinking, “Wow. That sucks. I don’t know what to say.”

    On the upside, you have so many online friends who are totally with you that you can afford to blow off your co-workers. *raspberry*May 17, 2013 – 5:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Serena Niobe Malcolm - Great post. I have had awkward conversations like that… different reasons, same result. I also think you handled yourself very well.

    I do so love your posts, I don’t always comment but I do read. I just wanted to tell you you’re a great mum (excuse my British spelling!)

    Have an amazing weekend 🙂May 17, 2013 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. - I*hate* that shit. (Those conversations, not the post…) I used to tap-dance around questions about my “husband” before I got remarried. I was so painfully aware that I was *different* than the other families.

    I realize that has nothing to do with having a child on the spectrum, or with speech delays, but I can definitely relate to the feeling of trying to keep some things to yourself, especially in the workplace. Avoiding that bullshit pity look is huge.

    I’m sure you did your best, and I have no idea how I could have done anything better or different than you did to make the conversation less painful.

    People aren’t trying to be dumb assholes. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still being dumb assholes. And that really sucks.May 17, 2013 – 6:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Stephanie,
    I don’t think people need a child on the spectrum to have experienced awkward conversations at work. You are awesome for your support – thank you. And you’re right. People aren’t trying to be dumb assholes, they just are dumb assholes. Ha. Thanks, friend.May 17, 2013 – 7:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Chris,
    What an insightful comment. I’d feel really guilty right now if I didn’t know for a fact that it’s not crossed his mind but I should definitely keep that in mind for the future. Because good point – I know some moms who are still in denial and I wouldn’t be the one to say “um, it’s probably autism” to them, either!May 17, 2013 – 7:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Kenya,
    I think you tell your old coworkers that you’re a writer because you are! Maybe they’ll go buy your book already! 😀May 17, 2013 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Well done you. I loved your drawings (as ever) and can completely get the pity all over the face thing (we’re going through trying to figure out how to tell people we can’t have kids). It’s horrible, and yes, you do get twitchy and wonder whether it’s worth having the conversation in the first place.May 17, 2013 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Meno mama and Emily,
    Thank you! Emily, glad to know someday I just may get it. MM – you are indeed right that so many people don’t know what autism is (including me sometimes). thanks, friends!May 17, 2013 – 7:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - K-
    OMG I cannot believe that somebody said it’s a shame you have to walk like that! OMG – people are so so stupid. Gah. I hope you spilled some juice in her purse or something before leaving.May 17, 2013 – 7:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Lori,
    Thank you. That pity face sucks. Sorry to hear that you’ve had to see it too. And you’re a pretty awesome coworker yourself!

    PS I HATE not having nested comments.May 17, 2013 – 7:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Considerer,
    So sorry to hear that and AGH to the whole pity face look. Bleh.May 17, 2013 – 7:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - I sympathize about the awkwardness, but I have to be honest – I cracked up when you threw your husband under the bus! That coworker is probably smacking his forehead for being a dumbass, and you got a fabulous blog post out of it!May 17, 2013 – 8:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristin Kveinå Cox - Know exactly how you feel! I mean its not like it is a secret, but at the same time I mostly just dont feel like discussing it with most people. it can be awkward…and the thing is I’m not ashamed at all. Just don’t feel like explaining.May 17, 2013 – 8:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - Besides this being a simultaneously hilarious and poignant post, I just want to say that it is not necessarily YOUR JOB to teach people manners and maturity. Or about autism. You know?May 17, 2013 – 9:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Deb,
    Yes, I DO know…but still, in some ways it is my job. Because who else will tell the Public that the Media is stupid, if not me? You know? And you know I heart you huge.May 17, 2013 – 9:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Dana,
    Thank you for noticing. Also? I was totally bummed nobody noticed the TPS report or the devil angel wanting a new human…May 17, 2013 – 9:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Chenell DeNeen - I’ll tell you what- I get this post…even though I don’t have a child with delays, I’ve had wayyyyy too many of these awkward conversations. Sometimes, you just have to make light of the absurdity of it. At least, that’s what I do!May 17, 2013 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Jean - I think there is a connection to be made with how women are trained to accommodate from birth. A lot of us have a knee-jerk reaction to act as you did that feels almost impossible to control sometimes.
    But, bottom line is that you are interacting with a whole new group of people and you’ve been back to work only a short time at this point. I’m sure that your smart, bad-ass self will find your way into dealing with how to explain/tell whatever about your son without pit stains. I mean, look what you do with your blog!May 17, 2013 – 9:55 pmReplyCancel

  • MyTwice BakedPotato - I loved the direction that the post went! I have heard myself say ridiculous things that I wished I could take back! This happened when I noticed ( and said out loud) that my co workers baby was working hard to poop. Boy do I wish I could take that back! Actually, I’m wondering if I should take it back from this comment! 🙂May 17, 2013 – 10:26 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - This post was wonderful. Though I’m sure it was not wonderful to live through. Everyone can identify with not want to become engaged in talking about a deep personal subject with someone. Your pictures captured all that uncomfortableness. Loved it.May 17, 2013 – 10:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Jamie,
      Thank you! I know there are many conversations that don’t include autism or developmental delays, and that they are just as awkward. I appreciate the reminder.May 17, 2013 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen - That’s so funny, I was like when she was younger she what??? when I got to the end, so I had to go back. Can I just give you a cyber hug? When Isaiah was first diagnosed I would not call him “special needs” I refused. I didn’t want people to look at me funny or pity me, as you said. Then my sister, who is a Speech Therapist at the children’s hospital in Utah told me how much my story was helping the families of her patients. She convinced me to stop hiding and to start evangelizing. She showed me that its all in your perspective. Own who Tucker is! You never know, the next person you talk to might be two years before you, with a speech delayed child, and so completely lost that connecting with you could be what keeps them a float. Tucker is unique and funny and wonderful, just bring it! You could be a force out there in the real world too, not just in the blogosphere (cause you really are here :-))May 17, 2013 – 11:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Jen,
    Yeah it was a bit of a stretch for FTSF but luckily the hosts seem to think it’s okay. That makes a lot of sense that you’re helping other parents! And you know, I probably would have said something to coworker if it was one I felt closer to…
    And THANK YOU for seeing that Tucker is unique and wonderful and funny and AWESOME. Thanks, friend. I really appreciate your support. 😀May 18, 2013 – 9:29 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Jean,
    The rest of your comment was awesome but I’m hung up on you calling me a bad-ass. Made my day. 😀May 18, 2013 – 9:30 amReplyCancel

  • Gina Valley - My children all have special needs to one degree or another. Not that you asked for it, but here is a little advice. First, stop being so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. It is not your job to educate the whole world. It is your job to parent your child. Educate when you have the energy and the gumption. Secondly, if you don’t have the energy or the gumption, skip it. Either say “We are happy with my son’s preschool. They give him lots of attention.” Or, when you have the energy say, “My son might be autistic. We are still working on a diagnosis, so we have him at Such and Such Preschool because they are great with working with kids on the autism spectrum. He’s doing great there.”
    Either way, don’t stress. There will be lots to stress over later.
    And, you can always bounce the conversation back to your coworker. “How did you find your preschool?” “Does your daughter like her teacher?” “Are you happy with the quality of the attention she receives?”
    Chatting with a co-worker need not be a stressful thing.May 18, 2013 – 10:38 amReplyCancel

  • Anita Davis Sullivan - I can rehearse out such conversations and yet still have them happen so awkwardly I want to never return! I can usually tell people what I think but am not so good about telling how I feel, or telling facts that bring pity. Just a few nights ago I was having dinner with my boss and a few people from a client. They started talking about siblings and how different our kids are from each other and that led to how we’re different from our siblings. I sat silent praying no one asked me- what would I say- yeah, so we’re a lot different. For example, I’m here and he’s who the hell knows where. I have co-workers who don’t know, so certainly not sharing with clients at a dinner. I feel your pain a bit. But you don’t have to be the advocate 100% of the time- sometimes you get to just be you, knowing even if you’re not speaking and educating, everything you do is for him in some way. <3May 18, 2013 – 11:46 amReplyCancel

  • Mama Meerkat - You don’t have to educate everyone all the time, and it is okay to just give a boring “oh he has special needs” response without elaborating. I’m generally pretty open about what is going on with Mini when people ask, but I’ve had 10 years of practice explaining why I can’t eat what everyone else is eating! (Yay for celiac and multiple food allergies, which come up without fail every time I am in a group of people for longer than 10 minutes because everyone always wants to eat!) It does get easier with time and practice.May 18, 2013 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi - Thanks, Mama Meerkat! And yes, so true that if you get more than a few people together for more than a few minutes, people want to eat. In fact, just talking about it made me hungry right now.May 18, 2013 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Wow your words and drawings are always so good and I really enjoy coming to read your blogs. Keep up the good work and I think you did handle the conversation really well.May 18, 2013 – 2:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - Kristi, I have similar conversations in regards to my kids having been adopted. I avoid eye contact, which usually works in public with strangers, but not so much at church or other social settings. I want to throat-punch well-meaning people when they say, “You’re such a good person to adopt these kids.” PUKE!!!! Like my kids are pathetic degenerates. It’s that pity thing. I hate it. They’re just my kids now, not orphans anymore. I just say, “Well, my husband and I are the ones who have been blessed,” and change the subject. It feels so weak. Gah!May 18, 2013 – 2:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Kate,
    UGH to people saying that you’re such a good person for adopting your kids. I mean, you ARE a good person but like you said – they’re your kids. You brought them home. People are dumb. I think saying that you and your husband are the ones who have been blessed is perfect. I was adopted, by the way! happy Saturday!May 18, 2013 – 4:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - I’ve done this myself. At least you didn’t start sobbing. Once–in a room full of other writers–I tried to explain what was wrong with Lindsey and broke out in tears. And the pity on their faces was pretty darn obvious. I just wanted to explain without drama. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. Sometimes the pain of her “diagnosis/title” paralyzes my voice and the words get stuck in my throat. I wish they didn’t.

    I love this story and your drawings. (As usual.) Thanks for sharing Kristi.May 18, 2013 – 9:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Aw, Linda!
    Although I didn’t start sobbing in this situation, I promise that there have been moments where I’ve started crying for no reason at all. And I can’t explain it to anybody who wouldn’t “get it.” Once, I was in the grocery store, and some really sweet grandma-type older woman came up and told Tucker how beautiful he was and asked him his name. He did the “talk to the hand” move and she looked so sad that I started bawling trying to explain that it wasn’t her…gah. I’m right with you – I wish they didn’t too.
    BUT. Look at Lindsay now. I mean, wow. Married to a man who is her “hunka hunka burnin’ love” who loves her back. You did good, mama. Perfect.
    XOXOMay 18, 2013 – 9:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Dawn Beronilla - You are amazing and awesome and I love you so hard.
    Also, we may or may not be twins who were separated at birth. FYI.May 18, 2013 – 11:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Dawn,
    My twin. I think it’s totally possible that we are in fact twins separated at birth. Except for the fact that you are younger, better looking and way cooler than I am. But still. Totally possible. I was adopted after all. So maybe they lied about my age. And my looks. And….May 18, 2013 – 11:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Terrye - I don’t remember ever getting the pity look. My usual answer to kid related stuff was, “He’s special needs, but we manage.” That usually leads to, “what’s wrong with him?” And that just opens up a whole new can of worms. Why does autism or being on the spectrum have to be considered “wrong?” Maybe they’re ‘right’ and we’re all wrong. And who want’s a normal kid like everyone else? They are unique and special in all the good ways.May 19, 2013 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Misty Brandon-Cotton - We don’t have an autism diagnosis for patty and have greatly/happily avoided it. The global attitude towards autism would have to change before I would be comfortable saying my daughter is autistic. My go to response is ‘she’s just a little behind her peers’. Is it weird I am completely comfortable with ‘developmental delay’ and completely not w ‘autism’?May 19, 2013 – 1:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Diane Tolley - Totally understand. There are times when I simply don’t want to go into it. I have a daughter with autism and sometimes, not often, I simply don’t feel communicative (is that a word?). But that goes for other topics, too…May 19, 2013 – 1:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Bee - My kid had ADHD and it was really hard when he was growing up – even though he was very intelligent (invisible Pig friend followed him everywhere, kept changing the name he wanted to be known by and we had to guess what it was before he spoke to us etc. etc.) he just wouldn’t engage in the learning process and developed early on a frightening self belief – he was also a committed cynic from about 4 yrs old…. he was almost excluded from school at one point – we called him Sparklemouse – he was ever so small and feisty – I look at him now at 25 – 6 feet 4 inches tall, holding down a day job, playing team sport, great girlfriend and doing education part time – at his own pace – and I think. OMG – if I could only have seen this back then – I wouldn’t have beaten myself up so much and worried about what other people were saying about him all those years ago… so, just keep loving and caring and it will all come right in the end!!May 19, 2013 – 4:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Bee,
    Although the invisible Pig friend sounds adorable I’m sure it was frustrating having to guess his name each time it changed before you son would talk to you! And wow, how wonderful that he’s doing so well now – a tribute to having an awesome mom, I’ll bet! Thanks so much for sharing your story and for the encouragement. I appreciate it.May 19, 2013 – 5:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Terrye,
    How right you are that maybe they are the right. Because they truly are unique and special in all the good ways. Thanks, friend!May 19, 2013 – 5:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel Demas - Completely fine to not have the energy or patience to deal with a co-worker on this or any other subject! It’s a professional relationship, period. Now, get back to work!May 20, 2013 – 3:03 amReplyCancel

  • Erin Petron Gosser - Oh, Kristi- such a hard topic to tackle. However, you produced a hilarious pit sweat/devil picture as a result!May 21, 2013 – 11:34 amReplyCancel

  • Joy - I can totally understand that. And I think it is okay to not always educate others. Sometimes it is just too hard to do it. And apart from that I am always very caution on who knows what about our family. I do not let everyone in on our most personal things. Don’t blame yourself or feel bad about it! xoxoMay 24, 2013 – 3:10 amReplyCancel

  • Melissa - It’s amazing how people who are normally so very conversant can be knocked for a loop by some random ass person who stops and asks a question. I find this happens to me a lot, although my reaction usually consists of either “mmm-hmm” or “yeah,” followed by a fake laugh. Wonder why that is?May 27, 2013 – 1:38 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Thanks, Anna! I appreciate it. May 17, 2013 – 4:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Thanks, Serena! And yeah, those awkward conversations are well…awkward. Love that you used the mum spelling – I heard an adorable British accent in my head which was awesome. Hope you have a great weekend, too!May 17, 2013 – 6:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - PS Can you put a link to your blog here?May 17, 2013 – 6:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - @[703769427:2048:Julie] is it wrong that I can imagine some of your awkward conversations and may have read about some of them in your book? You might have me beat 😉
    May 17, 2013 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Haha! Glad you didn’t take it back from this comment because awesome and it made me laugh. Love that you talked about poop with your coworkers!
    May 17, 2013 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Kristin,
    Exactly! Sometimes I just want to go to work and not think about speech and language delays and that whole world that I live the rest of the time.
    May 17, 2013 – 10:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - @[703769427:2048:Julie], what comment system are you using on these days? Saw a note that you uninstalled Disqus and am curious why I do not have the same commenting system as you! (I know you’re gonna say it’s a theme thing…sigh)May 17, 2013 – 11:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Anita,
    I’m sure that conversation with coworkers about siblings was awful! I can just imagine…did you end up saying anything about Austin or just steering the conversation in a different direction? And thanks for the reassurance that I don’t have to be an advocate 100% of the time. The thing is – if it were a different coworker, I may have opened up more but I just didn’t want to talk at that time – at all. Awkward! Hope you’re having a great weekend.
    May 18, 2013 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Gina,
    That is fantastic advice – thank you! I really appreciate it. I love the idea of asking how coworker found their preschool and whether they’re happy with the quality of attention their child receives! I wish I’d thought of that and really hope to remember it for next time. Thanks!
    May 18, 2013 – 1:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Gina, do you have a blog?May 18, 2013 – 1:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Anita Davis Sullivan - Just steered it away- way more my style. I’m having a good weekend so far, and am in PJ’s eating pizza with the kids- so happy day 🙂May 19, 2013 – 12:15 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - YAY so you’re back home! Awesome happy happy.May 19, 2013 – 1:32 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Misty,
    You bring up a good point about the global attitude about autism. Although the world has come a long way when it comes to understanding that the autism spectrum is huge and each person with it is wildly different from one another, another thing I think about when discussing it is all of the crap from the media and making people on the spectrum sound as if they are emotionless. NOT the case. So no, I don’t think it’s weird at all that you’re completely comfortable with DD and not autism.
    May 19, 2013 – 9:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Diane,
    Good point that not feeling communicative (totally a word!) goes for other topics, too. Thanks.May 19, 2013 – 9:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Thanks, Rachel. 🙂May 21, 2013 – 12:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Rieger Campbell - Thanks, Erin! A hard topic for sure. Appreciate the comment!May 21, 2013 – 12:14 pmReplyCancel

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