While having two kids on the autism spectrum, a husband with ADD, and her own struggles with Fibromyalgia, Margie Walker works every day to educate the public about autism via her blog Speaking On The Spectrum. She works with the Utah Autism Coalition as their Social Media Chair, and she also maintains a personal blog writing about her every day life over at Tired Mom.
As the mother of two children with autism, I've received lots of advice and comments from various family, friends and other well-meaning people. Most of the time I listen to what they have to say, then (as politely as possible) I try explaining that "it's not that easy" or "I've already looked into that." There's one type of advice, however, that whenever I hear it I just can't help but grit my teeth. I try to keep my thoughts to myself because if I don't, I'll end up on my soapbox.
A typical conversation goes something like this:
Me: "I'm just really worried about my son. He's always so jumpy and he's not speaking very clearly."
Well-Meaning Person: "Oh, you know my son was the same way, but he eventually grew out of it. I'm sure he'll be fine, don't worry."
Now it's clear what the person's intentions are. They're simply trying to put the parent at ease and give them some kind of reassurance. By making a comparison to their own child (or other kids), they think they're helping the parent feel better because other kids do that too. The truth is, however, those comparisons never put us at ease. The fact is it makes special-needs parents feel like you're trivializing their concerns. Making a mountain out of a mole hill.
In my personal experience, the only time I've ever been OK with someone comparing their child to mine is when their child also has special-needs. Those parents are in the same boat. They get it. They're having the same issues and stresses I'm having with my kids. When a parent of a typically developing child compares their child to mine, I seriously get annoyed. I feel like saying, "Stop comparing them! My kids have autism, yours don't! It's not the same!"
So instead of making comparisons and telling the parent not to worry (or even not to worry too much), a simple acknowledgment is probably the better thing to do: "I'm so sorry. I wish I could do something to help." Parents of kids with autism and other special-needs have so much they worry about. There's no way to reassure them that everything will be OK. There's no way to know for sure. All we really need is support and someone to listen to our concerns.