Can I ask you a question?
Are you friends with everyone who lives in your street? What about your favourite football team or at your work...do you have an instant and long-lasting friendship with them because you have one mutual thing in common?
Of course not!
Just because my child has autism or any other condition does not mean I will get on with, be friends with, or even connect with someone else whose child has the same condition.
I have a few friends on my social media whose children attend my daughter’s school. I choose to have them because we are actually friends and if we met in the local supermarket we would actually say hello to each other.
I have friends from school on my social media too for the same reason and friends from church.
For many of these people I really do only have one thing in common with them but we also bond as people and our conversations can be about a number of different things, not just the one thing we have in common.
It’s the exact same with autism.
I can have a conversation with a stranger whose child has the same diagnosis as mine and we can converse on one topic but go on to find a whole lot more in common and over time develop a deep friendship.
Other times I can have a conversation with someone about autism because their child is diagnosed too but other than that one thing we have nothing at all in common. And that is perfectly ok!
Autism is a massive spectrum for one thing, different areas of the country have different support and systems and parents can approach life in very different ways.
We can respect and support people without having to have a friendship with them.
Over the years I have actually come across some parents whose children may have the same condition as mine but who are very opposite to me in parenting style, beliefs and lifestyles.
It does not mean one of us is right and the other wrong, we are just different.
I have seen people who both have a child with the same condition fight like cat and dog online and in real life, I have seen bitchiness and abuse even though at the root of it all people have something in common.
Last week I spoke to a mum whose child has autism and she was telling me she actively avoids other mums whose children have the same diagnosis as hers because she wants her friendships to be based on much broader things.
I thought that was an interesting perspective and I fully respect her for that. She did not want to forge a relationship based on one loose connection.
Some of my closest friends DO have a child with autism, some have twins the same as me and some are just wonderful, amazing and caring people who I happened to meet at different points in my life.
I write about autism and I have a Facebook page about autism. I talk about autism and I live with autism.
I can see why anyone with a child with autism may feel connected to me. But please do not expect me to suddenly be friends with everyone and anyone who just has that one thing in common with me.
Our kids may have the same condition but that’s where it ends.
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