"You Need to be Realistic About Your Child's Future."

An Explanation About Functionality (and Expectations)

If someone tells you that, tell them that they "need to be realistic" about their fortune telling abilities... and that it's realistic to expect great things.

Being Realistic

It is unrealistic to expect an autistic child to attain outstanding adult achievements (as a child), for good reason. The child, whatever the problems, is a child. It is unrealistic to expect a child to achieve adult things.

In the case of an NT (neurotypical) child, the child's development is a series of developmental "steps" or "building blocks". The parent can generally see how this is leading to some generic adult life (career path, creative life, "leadership" or whatever one calls good life karma).

In the case of an autistic child, the same or similar development "steps" occur, only in a (slightly) different order. This doesn't follow the flowchart familiar to parents used to the NT flowchart.

In computer terms, the same high level program is operating on a different kernel of a different OS. (i.e., the "same" internet browser on different type of computer may execute its instructions differently through that computer.)
The significant aspect of this is that the child's development follows what is sometimes an unfamiliar path.

This is not particularly obvious. A number of tasks are so incremental that one cannot see progress. The emotional impact is that the end result is unachievable. On the other hand, arriving at the destination on a long car trip is a given (depending on the car, of course). There are a lot of tasks one must perform to reach the destination, but worrying about one's ability to complete the trip isn't one of them.

Taking the case of an autistic child's development, worrying about the child's ability to be an adult isn't a very useful step.

"The Tragedy of Autism"

There is yet another complication. Look at the "tragedy of autism" propaganda. There are some autistic children who are difficult to rear. That's the way it is. There are "easy" and "difficult" children -- meaning "easy" and "difficult" NT children -- so why would the situation be different with autistics?

"The Tragedy of Autism" propaganda does seem to provide some function -- it makes for easy fundraising by the "cure" organisations that are not ashamed to use these tactics.

An Email

The following was part of an email list exchange, concerning a 3-year-old:

in response to a comment about a mom being told that her son is "full blown autistic" (whatever that means)...

the reply:

If you take an NT kid who is whatever [Son's] age, and wanted to know whether he'd do well in advanced quantum mechanics in graduate school, you'd have about the same answer. (We'll ignore for the moment the low percentage of NTs who excel in esoteric studies of that sort. Let's just say a "randomly selected" kid.) In the case of [Son], it is probably nearly impossible for you to say what he will be like 10 or 15 years from now. As Jim Sinclair said, "If you've seen one Autistic, you've seen one Autistic."

In the case of NT kids, at least you know that a 2 year old who runs around seemingly aimlessly, and tries to get into the detergent and bleach under the sink will grow up to ask "Do you want fries with that" at 16, and presumably do something that interests the kid at 25. We (NTs and Autistics) understand NT child development.

In the case of Autistic kids, you find out that the kid is on The Spectrum. Then you figure it out because there's not a lot of information on this. So when it becomes difficult to see that kid doing anything self-productive, the natural presumption is that the kid will perhaps not do anything self-productive as an adult. That ain't the way this life works.

In other words, you probably know he won't be taking orders at McTransfats at 16, but have no idea what the kid's adult life will be like.

Incidentally (or perhaps not so incidentally), I'll bet that the doctor is a psychiatrist and not a psychologist.

- s

In the Meantime...

Consider that as the parent, you are the person most aware of the child and the child's capabilities.

When I was about three, I was taken for testing and evaluation. The psychologist asked me to hand her a toy truck on the table. The subject (me) was expected to do one of three things:

  1. Picks up the truck and hands it to the tester. - The child comprehends the request, understands which is the correct object and responds accordingly.
  2. Does not pick up the truck, but reacts. - The child may or may not comprehend the request. The tester may observe the child's reaction to see if the child understood the correct object. Testing must continue to determine the child's comprehension.
  3. Responds by handing the tester her cup of coffee or by moving the truck elsewhere. - The child presumably lacks the ability to distinguish the symbolic object or the tester's request.

    I reacted according to response 4:

  4. Went about what I was doing before the test. - My mom was told that I was "retarded" and probably deaf.
In other words, I responded as if the tester wasn't there. The tester looked at me and determined that, in her professional opinion, I was far too young to be a teenager (for whom such a response would be normal).

At that point my mom asked me to pick up the truck, to which I responded.

The point of all of this is that the professional (the psychologist) is trained to understand various behaviours, but the parent and later the individual is best equipped to evaluate the individual child.


Echolalia is a common affect of autism, particularly among (autistic) children. Echolalia is the repetition of vocalizations made by another person. A 1983 report [1] indicated that up to 75% of verbal autistics have some form of echolalia. When done involuntarily, it is considered a tic.

Echolalia is also present in the Therapist community. Ruth Snyder, an autism consultant describes "cut-and-paste" diagnosticians who don't really understand the conditions they are evaluating and therefore cannot adequately address the issues.

You Need to be Realistic About Your Child's Future.   Expect surprises.   Expect wonderful things.

Other Support and Issues

"Don't Mourn for Us"
This 1993 essay by Jim Sinclair, co-founder of ANI is seen as the touchstone to the autism self-advocacy movement.

Watch Neurotypicalism Everyday in veoh.com (link to Christschool's videos)

(numerous similar links here)

Christschool's videos on YouTube
These videos are amazing, and go further to describe life with a child on The Spectrum, taken from the viewpoint of an adult Autistic. There's a wide variety of issues there -- take your pick.

Finding This Website

The URL is www.scn.org/people/autistics/
So far, Google, Yahoo and AltaVista pick up this website by using the following searches:
relationships and the autism spectrum
"relationships and the spectrum" autism

Comments about this site: email me

Note that this is a group website and some of the pages on this website are not mine. Please get in touch with the cognizant people for the other pages. Also, let the author know which pages you're writing about. If you see text material on the net, there's a good chance that the author has written dozens of pages, and so it helps if you give the author some clue as to which page you're writing about.
written 01 Jul 07. Last revised 22 Jan 10.

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