DEAR AMY: I am the parent of a 2-year-old, and I have regular playdates with several other moms and their toddlers. One of these friends has a toddler, “Jimmy,” who seems to exhibit many of the early signs of being on the autism spectrum. The other moms and I have wondered for many months if Jimmy’s parents will have him tested, but so far they have not. We have been hesitant to bring up the subject with Jimmy’s mom for fear of how she might perceive any suggestion that something could be “wrong” with her son. But as he grows older and continues to exhibit signs, we worry that he may not get the early intervention that can be so helpful for kids on the spectrum. The only time the subject came up naturally in conversation was when his mom said that at Jimmy’s 2-year doctor’s checkup, they were told his language development was borderline, but that they (his parents) do not believe it’s a problem. I want to trust that his parents’ intuition will guide them correctly, but I also worry that his doctor may not be performing the same autism screenings that ours does, and that his parents are not aware that his differences from other children could be a sign of autism. Should I tell my friend my concerns about her son? Or is this none of my business?
DEAR CONCERNED: Parents learn from other parents, and without gentle, nonjudgmental and generous guidance from these parents, we are all on our own to navigate the tricky travails of raising a child.
There is nothing necessarily “wrong” with a child who is on the autism spectrum; it is just part of the unique nature of that particular child. Parents should seek information about their child — his social and physical development — because this helps everyone to provide the support each unique child deserves to have.
You could ask this mother, “Did your doctor test ‘Jimmy’ for signs of being on the autism spectrum? Our doctor did a screening and it was very helpful.” This may open a conversation with her, or may prompt her to do some research on her own.
I agree that having the results of this test could be very helpful to the parents and the child, and that early testing and educated intervention could be a game changer for this family.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I met a couple of new friends at a wedding. Let’s call them “Jill” and “Jack.” They live not far from our home and we have become good friends. I am traveling to France in two weeks with my husband. Jill asked me if I could bring a certain brand of cream made in France back with us. She said it is not expensive. I checked online and it is readily available. Should I tell her to get it online? Should I bring it from France? Should I buy it myself online and give it to her? It costs $43, and she didn’t offer to pay for it. Maybe in France it’s less pricey. I don’t want to be rude, but if it’s a product you can get here in the United States, why bother someone who is traveling? What do you think?
DEAR TAXED: You should send your friend a link to the online source where you found this product. Tell her, “If I run across this in France, I’ll try to pick it up, but I can’t guarantee it. I wanted you to know it’s available here, too.”
DEAR AMY: You used the word “mansplaining” in your reply to “Perplexed.” I don’t think it means what you think it means. Mansplaining is a sexist word used by feminists to shut down any debate with a man if they think they can’t win with their argument. Your use of it in your column is offensive to anyone who is capable of a logical discussion.
Mark R. Bates, National Coalition For Men
DEAR MARK: Others complained that I had misused the word “mansplaining,” but you are the only person to mansplain while doing it.
“Mansplaining” is a slang term used for when men co-opt ideas, thoughts or concepts generated by a woman and then re-explain these concepts back to her in a highly patronizing and “expert” way. (See above.)