Miffed about comment from friends ds5 about dd 7 (ASD related)

(58 Posts)
Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 15:25:29

Today I was looking after my friends dd and ds, the slept the night as the mum was in hospital. The ds woke up and immediately said: my mummy told me dd not normal. I was stumped I didn't know what to say, I told him she is a child like you who needs a little more help.

I felt hurt, is that the way she sees dd? Is that how they talk about dd at home?

Pagwatch Sun 06-Jul-14 15:32:15

I wouldn't assume anything except that your friend probably struggled to explain the nuances of ASD to a young child.
Once you start reaching for simple words that a child can understand it gets harder rather than easier.

When I was explaining DS2 to DD and her friends I realised how tricky it is. How would you explain your child's difficulties to a 5 year old?

I think you should forget it.

DinoSnores Sun 06-Jul-14 15:32:51

It is impossible to know how they talk about your DD at home from that statement from a 5 year old. Perhaps your friend was just trying to explain to her son why your DD does or doesn't do something, for example, or might have been encouraging her DS to be patient with DD when they are playing together and to stick to the rules etc? (Making up examples here, obviously, but 5 year olds do come out with odd unconnected things!)

Thumbwitch Sun 06-Jul-14 15:34:23

His mum may have told him things in a far more complicated way, and he's reduced it to "she's not normal" in his head to understand it.

I try to explain things to DS1 (who is 6) and it's very difficult to pick the exactly correct words sometimes, especially as he doesn't always understand them, so you have to paraphrase and then end up accidentally using the wrong/less appropriate words, and they are always the ones that stick in his head hmm <sigh>

I wouldn't worry, he's only 5.

Greyhound Sun 06-Jul-14 15:36:43

That would have upset me too. Even if it is a little kid saying it, it's hurtful.

shockinglybadteacher Sun 06-Jul-14 15:39:51

Totally what others have said here. I have a DN (7) who if you explain things one way to her, will invariably choose the most terrible sounding way to explain things to other people. Conversation could have gone like this:

Friend's DS: Why can't (DD) do X thing? It's normal to do X thing
Friend: Well not all people can do X thing like you you know. (DD) just can't do X thing, don't bother her about it
Friend's DS: thinking So (DD) is not normal! My mum said she wasn't!

Although she had said no such thing. Kids add 2+2 and make Z.

phantomnamechanger Sun 06-Jul-14 15:40:25

the teachers used to explain antisocial behaviour (in reception) of one little boy with ASD by telling my DC "his brain doesn't work properly so he doesn't understand like you do" - in a child's head this is easily translated into "he's not normal" when that it not what the adult actually said.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 15:40:51

I know that's exactly what dh said as she had a mealtdown at their party, and her behaviour I guess it's difficult explaining to a young child. But it still hurts a bit when it's tge first thing the ds says to you when he wakes up.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 15:42:36

Exactly it's their interpretation on it. My friend is lovely and really likes dd and I can't imagine her of her dh talking about dd like that. So it seems very out of the blue.

phantomnamechanger Sun 06-Jul-14 15:43:22

you're the adult and he's 5 - try not to feel hurt because he did not intend hurt thanks

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 15:45:22

I know phantom thanks smile

GrannyOnTheSchoolRun Sun 06-Jul-14 15:51:47

Not everything is said as an insult, or used as a slur.

Not normal, not NT - same difference but one is way harder for an child to use.

Pagwatch Sun 06-Jul-14 15:57:55

Well no, it's not really the same difference hmm

But a 5 year old wouldn't get that one is upsetting. Most adults are intelligent enough to know that one is loaded and shitty whilst the other isn't.

GrannyOnTheSchoolRun Sun 06-Jul-14 16:16:46

Well as the mother of young man who has profoundly severe ASD, Tourete's, and additional mental health issues, I'll continue to not be offended by the innocent use of a word when no offence was intended.

NT, normal - there is no difference

PolterGoose Sun 06-Jul-14 16:24:27

phantom as a mum of a child with ASD I would much rather you explained my ds's brain as 'working differently' rather than 'not working properly' smile

I can understand why it hurt Aero but I suspect it's probably a child's interpretation. I find 'normal' particularly horrid because of the way it can be used eg abnormal and subnormal. For me 'typical' is so much better, my ds is atypical not abnormal/subnormal.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:25:09

Dd is doing so well, her speech is really coming on and mealtdowns reducing since starting her Autistic school. I guess their mum might have clumsily tried to explain to them why dd is the way she is. Mum comes from a Mediterranean country originally and they tend to use very ok'd fashioned terms. Mum mum is from Cyprus and still uses old fashioned terms to describe disability.

Pagwatch Sun 06-Jul-14 16:26:05

For you there is no difference.
For many of us there is a huge difference.

Being typical, a typical child is not a loaded term. Not being typical is fine too - positive even, it has tones of being unusual and quirky and those are often deemed positive.

Being 'not normal' is never, ever said as a positive thing.

I won't list my 'mother of' credentials. We are talking about general use of language. I might regard 'awkward little fucker' as fine but I'm not sure how relevant that would be.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:26:25

I agree poltergoose, it's the negative meanings of normal, not normal, subnormal. Not like us, not a proper child etc

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:27:21

I meant my mum is from Cyprus sorry

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:28:04

The ds mum comes from a med country

MrsWinnibago Sun 06-Jul-14 16:28:11

You could try to model the correct way to explain things to your friend....next time you get the chance you could say "We like to say that DD's mind works in a different way to others' minds....everyone is different but DD thinks in a way which is completely unique to her." We don't say she's not normal.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:32:38

Goid idea mrswinnebago I will when I hear her say something. She rearly does though to me. What she says at home I don't know.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 16:33:20

I will incorporate it into conversation when talking about dd.

GrannyOnTheSchoolRun Sun 06-Jul-14 16:44:39

But surely you would only think of it in a negative way if you think negatively.

Ive never once looked at my son and thought he wasn't a proper person, or he is not normal, or he is subnormal. Absolutely never. But he certainly isn't normal/nt. He is in actual fact one of the wonders of the world.

Some of you don't have get your knickers in a twist about nothing and I think your best left to your outrage.

Pagwatch Sun 06-Jul-14 16:50:35

I don't get my knickers in a twist about much tbh. And 'some of you' is a pretty smug and dismissive way to brand anyone who has a different viewpoint.
I think 'not normal' is unplesant. You think it's fine. I'm allowed to disagree with you without you trying to pretend that anyone who feels differently is being over sensitive. That's just wanky.

ouryve Sun 06-Jul-14 16:52:06

I'm doubting that "not normal" was the child's original idea. It's the child's mother you should be annoyed with. And only then if you're sure she wasn't just being clumsy. It doesn't occur to many people that "typical" is a more appropriate word than "normal" - then there's the question to answer "what does typical mean?"

ouryve Sun 06-Jul-14 16:59:51

Granny - I find your "Some of you" attitude to other parents more insulting than the words "not normal" coming out of a 5yo's mouth, to be honest. The 5yo is an innocent child, learning about the world. You come across as rather haughty, as if you think that you're better than "us", that you're right and "we" are wrong.

NickiFury Sun 06-Jul-14 17:00:30

Pagwatch is bang on and I think it's quite rude and unpleasant to reduce her perfectly valid opinions and views into "getting knickers in a twist".

OP at school pick up I used to have smirking kids telling me how "naughty" ds had been that day. I used to say "well firstly he's not naughty, his brain just works differently to yours and secondly I don't really think you should be telling tales I am sure his teacher will tell me if she wants to" big smile.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 06-Jul-14 17:26:39

I just don't like the term, I personally feel it is a negative term. If he had said dd is not normal, I would have thought like many of you, he's only 5, his understanding will not be that good, but he said my mum thinks dd is it normal. He obviously repeated something from an adult conversation. That does smart a bit!

JaneEG Sun 20-Jul-14 01:18:30

So how is it best to explain about disability to my 5 year old? At this age they will stare at anything out of the ordinary - and I mean out of the ordinary to THEM. So in a public situation where a grown up is making noises and not talking 'properly' or behaving as most adults she has come into contact with does then it's hard to verbalise without inadvertently causing offence to anyone why this person is behaving in a way that in a child's eyes is not 'normal'. I've read that 'typical' is a better word to use but my 5year old will ask what 'typical' means. My intention would be to talk about people being different and refer to 'something special' c beebies, and maybe say that their brains work differently to most people which is why they need carers and extra help even though they are grown ups. She'll probably asked if they are poorly to which my answer would be no, but their brains are just different so they don't understand everything as well as she does. Does this sound appropriate/ sensible?

FriendlyAmoeba Sun 20-Jul-14 01:29:32

Well, to be fair, it's not easy to explain an invisible disability to a child. The mom could have said that she's different, and he decided that meant not normal. Or should could have gently explained that she doesn't have the ability to control her emotions like normal children do, and he threw out all tact when repeating it.

In any case, I'd talk to the mother and she could clarify. She probably didn't mean anything harmful by it. Kids with ASD aren't normal, but that's not a bad thing, and not something to be offended by. Honestly, I'd try to embrace it. She's not normal, and that's awesome. Diversity is the spice of life. smile

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 01:44:03

She's not normal, and that's awesome to be honest I don't think it's in any way awesome that my child isn't normal.

I'd dearly love her to not have to struggle every day to find her way in a world in which she just doesn't seem to fit in.

Nor do I think it's a gift or any other similar cliché!

FriendlyAmoeba Sun 20-Jul-14 02:22:04

I never said it was a gift. Just pointing out that a kid with ASD is not normal. They never will be.

You can either accept that and stop seeing it as an insult, or you can continue to get upset about people pointing out the obvious.

Perhaps I should have worded it better. She's not normal but she's still awesome. That work better for you?

Jinsei Sun 20-Jul-14 02:31:36

Does the mum speak English as a second language, or do they speak another language at home? Could it be that something has got lost in translation somehow? It must be difficult to explain something like ASD in child-friendly terms when you're doing it in a language that isn't your own.

Tbh, I think it's just difficult to explain stuff like this to kids anyway. I remember trying to explain to my then 4yo dd that one of the little boys in her class behaved as he did because his mind worked a bit differently from hers, and she just said, "yeah, I know, he's got a syndrome". shock She had apparently learnt the term from her friend, whose older sister also had asd, and they had obviously concluded that this child had similar issues. She was totally accepting of the little boy, and meant no harm by it - in fact, she had just been telling me about how she had defended the child when other kids had been making fun of him. However, I was appalled at the idea of her going round the playground and diagnosing other kids with "syndromes" if their behaviour didn't quite meet her expectations. blush Needless to say, we had a chat about everyone being different and not making any assumptions about anyone, but it made me realise how difficult it is for small children to get their heads around issues of this nature.

PolterGoose Sun 20-Jul-14 08:49:27

Describing a child or adult with disabilities of any kind as 'not normal' is incredibly offensive.

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 08:52:53

Friendly that doesn't 'work better for me', no.

FriendlyAmoeba Sun 20-Jul-14 09:09:54

Friendly that doesn't 'work better for me', no.

Wow. Sorry you're so unhappy with your child, I feel bad for them. If my kid had a disorder I'd still think they were awesome. sad

PolterGoose Sun 20-Jul-14 09:14:20

Our kids are awesome, thanks, but that doesn't make them not normal (abnormal or subnormal?)

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 09:15:38

It's offensive.
I'm not going to change how I feel about tht phrase just because it seems too deeply challenging for a few supposedly intelligent people to figure out a phrase that isn't offensive.

I have used
'understands things differently'
'finds some stuff much harder than you do'
'finds it hard to say his words'
Not like average kids'
Not like a regular kid'
His brain works a bit differently

....Off the top of my head

Not normal has horrible connotations and is awful.

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 09:19:15

Oh that's a gratuitously stupid interpretation of a point of view there FriendlyAmoeba

I'm not unhappy with my child. He is wonderful. So I would prefer that people were not fucking rude about him - because 'not normal' is fucking rude.

Your passive aggressive sad face is preposterous and twatty.

FriendlyAmoeba Sun 20-Jul-14 09:20:22

I'm not trying to be antagonistic here.

But why such a huge emphasis on using words like average, typical, regular, or other synonyms of normal? They all mean the same thing.

Maybe I'm not getting it because it's just not a loaded word here. confused

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 09:21:34

Wow. Sorry you're so unhappy with your child, I feel bad for them. could you be any more offensive?

I fucking love my child and of course she's awesome. How dare you feel bad for her you don't know her or me!

It doesn't work because you still insist on using not normal despite being told that many people find it offensive.

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 09:29:17

Well actually you are being antagonistic, unless you confusion about loaded language leads you to think that "

Wow. Sorry you're so unhappy with your child, I feel bad for them."

was not incredibly crass and rude.

Not Normal /abnormal is always used to imply 'wrongness' . It is used for sex offenders and murderer and a whole raft of evil or odd people sitting outside normal human behaviour.

Not average, not a regular kid might mean tall or bright or other stuff that is not generally deemed bad.

If I say ' you see that bloke over there - he's not normal' would you want to go and it next to him?

WanderingAway Sun 20-Jul-14 09:38:03

It is so hard trying to explain to children why other people are not like them. My friends dp has a serious MH illness and trying to explain it to my dd was hard but I never ever said that he was not normal because I find that word strange. What is normal anyway?

FriendlyAmoeba Sun 20-Jul-14 09:39:08

No I think that saying no that "She's not normal but she's still awesome." doesn't work after saying "I don't think it's in any way awesome that my child isn't normal" does come across as "I don't think my kid is awesome".

I misunderstood you, you misunderstood me.

It is used for sex offenders and murderer and a whole raft of evil or odd people sitting outside normal human behaviour.

That must be a British thing. We don't refer to them as not normal, we refer to them as creeps and other derogatory words.

In as someone who is neuroatypical, I don't find "normal" or "not normal" an offensive descriptor.

If I say ' you see that bloke over there - he's not normal' would you want to go and it next to him?

Depends on context and voice tone.

In anycase, I will hide the thread. Sorry to offend. confused

Guitargirl Sun 20-Jul-14 09:47:04

There are lots of prejudices and assumptions on this thread - including the OP's 'old-fashioned' Cypriot comments.

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 09:48:46

I said this I don't think it's in any way awesome that my child isn't normal. normal was in italics as it's a word you used. I didn't say my child isn't awesome. I think you know that though!

Whereisegg Sun 20-Jul-14 09:53:50

Op, at the end of your last post you said that the child had obviously overheard an adult saying this.

I honestly don't think you can guarantee that at all, as stated by pp, you can often tell a dc one thing, but they hear another.

x2boys Sun 20-Jul-14 10:08:33

I think kids understand more han we give them credit fo ds2/is autistic ds1/who s seven understands this and will say to me its/only because he is ortastic ( as he calls it) that he is behaving in whatever way he is behaving he also understands about his brothers chromosome disorder and will frequently tell me his brother has a tiny bit of his chromosome missing .

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 10:44:32

Presumably you have gone friendlyAmoeba but again, if you find people are regarding a phrase as offensive when you see it as neutral, perhaps try to figure out any national/cultural differences before you reach for
'you're so unhappy with your child. I fel sorry for them sad'

Up there with some of the most deliberately nasty things I have ever read on here.

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 10:50:20

Pag I honestly believe that comment was deliberately offensive. It wasn't a misunderstanding.

I almost posted that it was the worst thing anyone had said to me on MN but I thought I'd be accused of being PO or dramatic or something!

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 11:02:34

I know Thorn.
I was being disingenuous. smile

It was really, really nasty.

PolterGoose Sun 20-Jul-14 11:12:29

thorn flowers

hazeyjane Sun 20-Jul-14 11:34:31

Christ the 'not normal' thing hits me like a punch to my stomach to be honest, and I know my dd's would be open mouthed if someone described their brother (who they definitely think is awesome, if a little annoying) as 'not normal'

thornrose Sun 20-Jul-14 11:57:07

Oh of course Pag, sorry!

Pagwatch Sun 20-Jul-14 12:58:00

Lord don't apologise Thorn.
I shouldn't be a snarky cow. I should just stick with 'don't be fucking vile'


2old2beamum Sun 20-Jul-14 13:42:12

How can such an innocent post asking for advice get so twisted and nasty?
Having 5 with learning disability I suppose some of you think they are not normal to you maybe but to us parents they are a little different but still lovely.
Well said Pagwatch Hazeyjane etc thanks You are my type of people
Good luck Aeroflotgirl

FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 20-Jul-14 13:50:54

My DD is totally normal. She just cant speak very well and has difficulties with some things.

Normal she certainly is though.

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