This weekend kicks off barbecue season. It's another summer of hot dogs, potato salad, and chasing my kid around someone else's yard. It's another summer of being the Autism Ambassador.
I'm going to sound like a jerk when I say this, but I don't always feel like talking about autism. When I meet people that are friends of friends, they want to tell me all
about their sister's niece or their neighbor's grandson on the
spectrum. I know they are trying to make a connection and I think it's
really nice of them to show an interest. I do. I did it, too, before I became a parent. But it's so exhausting sometimes!
Have you seen that video of the autistic boy playing basketball? Did you see the girl who wore orange to her prom because her date is autistic and that's his favorite color? How about the autistic boy who loves to watch the garbage truck?
Have you tried giving him weed?
I know they mean well, but I want to talk about something else. Changing the subject can be tricky. Any reference to current events could turn the conversation to politics, which, in my neck of the woods, will invariably lead to me hating people. So I've decided to have some new topics at the ready. Feel free to use them when a friend of a friend asks you awkward questions.
Friend of friend: Did you see the report linking maternal obesity to autism?
Me: No, I didn't. But isn't it nice that they finally gave King Richard III a proper burial? It's so strange how they keep finding dead kings under parking lots in England.
(Note: This is true.)
Friend of friend: Does your child have any special talents? Like Rainman?
Me: No, but speaking of Rainman, did you know Dustin Hoffman accidentally cut off the tip of his finger during Finding Neverland and had to film while hopped up on morphine?
(Note: Maybe true.)
Friend of friend: My sister's neighbor is on the spectrum.
Me: Really? My sister's neighbor fell out of an airplane and LIVED!
(Note: OK, so this did happen, but not to my sister's neighbor. I don't have a sister.)
If all else fails, we can talk about the food. And Julia. I will always make an exception for Julia!