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Um, kids don't respond to strangers for all kinds of reasons. Adults need to lay off the butthurt.

Dear Prudence,
I have a 4-year-old with autism. He is mostly nonverbal, and he hums almost all the time. I don’t really notice it anymore, but when we are out, other people notice him humming. They sometimes try to talk to him and, obviously, he doesn’t respond verbally. They look like it hurts their feelings when he doesn’t. I’ve tried several responses, including saying, “He has autism, and although he doesn’t speak, he can understand what people are saying.” The problem is no matter what I say it just seems like people are either unhappy or uncomfortable with whatever response I give. I need suggestions on what to tell people when he doesn’t respond to them.

—Hears You Just Fine

Re: Um, kids don't respond to strangers for all kinds of reasons. Adults need to lay off the butthurt.

  • 6fsn6fsn member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited April 2016
    My kids just don't like to talk to strangers.  I look at the adult and say "guess they don't want to talk today," and move on.  No reason to explain anything further.

    I do make them speak up when ordering in a restaurant or if they want spiked up hair at the hair dresser (6let still refuses to ask so he gets flat hair).

    ETA: For the new people, 6let is 7.5 years old. 
  • DefConn literally hides in my butt when he doesn't want to talk to people.  He wanted to go to my office one day and then practically climbed back inside the womb to not talk to people.  

    And he gets shy around people we know and he has seen several times.  

    So IDK who these strangers are, but they can fuck off.  For real.  And she doesn't have to explain her child's condition to them. 
  • VarunaTT said:
    This is one of those things that makes me mad.  I'm not sure how you're supposed to raise an adult who knows their own boundaries and knows how to enforce said boundaries, if you don't allow them boundaries.  I don't care that her child is autistic...a stranger has no right to your kid's time or attention.

    I also get mad when I go in for a hug and when kid doesn't want to hug me, the parents try to make them.  NO.  Kid doesn't want to hug me, that's okay.  
    This. THIS. THIS!

    My kids are shy at times, and some times they aren't. The only time I tell them that they can't be silent is when they are talking to someone like at the hair stylist or a restaurant. I do encourage DS that if he doesn't want to talk to someone that he should politely say something like "Thank you, but right now I'd like to be quiet" so they don't think he's being rude and ignoring them.
  • At the same time, she is judging these people based on what? Their facial expressions? In an ideal world a person would smile and maybe keep chatting with the little boy.  I am around autistic teenagers often but I still feel like I could wince in a "shoot, sorry, assumed something I shouldn't have" face that could be mistaken for being sad that the kid wont answer my question.

  • My two youngest (6 and 4) WILL NOT talk to anyone they don't know.  They never have and I have never made them.

  • A little girl got kidnapped and was found murdered from my neighborhood when I was little. We were the same age and used to play at the time. I don't remember it but I guess the FBI came and questioned my parents and me a little. After that my parents were really big on stranger danger and as a result I didn't talk to any strangers until I was a teenager. 

    This mom shouldn't apologize for her kids, these strangers need to get over it. Also who cares if they get hurt, it's the kids feelings that matter!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • My kid will only talk to you if you are a kid (he's 3). If you are an unknown adult, he will give you the stare. I agree with all of you about boundaries and telling adults that their kid just doesn't want to talk to them.

    Lordy, what ever happened to adults minding their own business!
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    This reminds me of a Supernanny episode from years ago where SN had to explain to parents that they, nor the ones wanting the hugs/kisses, should try to "force" kids to hug, kiss, etc. She had the parents sit on the ground so they could be "child sized" and then dove in, looming over them, arms outstretched, demanding touching, all up in their personal space. They got the message quickly. 

    People should definitely not get butthurt or take it personally if a kid doesn't want to talk to or hug/kiss them, especially if they are strangers. 

    I was at a baby's birthday party 2 years ago, and this little girl about 3, as soon as I walked in the door, grabbed my hand and pulled me over to play with her. It was adorable but kind of scary. I mean, I guess she could assume I was safe, since I had apparently been let into the house, but still. Stranger danger!
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
  • My kid isn't shy, so for her it's trying to enforce the "stranger danger" aspect of it. 
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