Q. My fiance has a 4-year-old son from a previous relationship who was recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism. That prompted my fiance’s parents to tell him that he also was diagnosed with this as a child.
Neither diagnosis was a surprise, but it has understandably been difficult for him.
For the past few months, the child’s mother has made almost daily Twitter and Facebook posts about their son’s condition that really upset my fiance. The shared pictures and quotes make it seem like their child is very impaired, which he isn’t.
He’s being painted as a helpless victim who will need lifelong care, not the intelligent, funny, and lively boy that he is.
I don’t think she realizes how offensive and hurtful this is on my fiance’s end. He has the same relatively mild diagnosis and he grew into a happy, successful adult. It’s hard for him to see her talking about their child as if his future went from bright to bleak the second he was diagnosed.
She has every right to her feelings about the diagnosis, but the way that she’s expressing herself is putting a real strain on their interactions. Is there any way he can tell his ex (who is no great fan of his) that her way of talking about their son’s autism is upsetting to him, without being offensive himself?
A. I appreciate your thoughtfulness — and your determination not to let this particular label define a young child.
Your fiance should approach his ex in the spirit of being effective parents, not about how her behavior affects his own self-esteem. The two of them should meet with the person who made the diagnosis. They should discuss the child’s challenges and the best way to meet them.
I agree that inflating this situation on social networks shows poor judgment. The father should advocate for his son by asking his ex, “Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of our son? How do you think it affects his relationships and his ability to understand and navigate this challenge when people think he’s more disabled than he is?”
The father should offer a real-life example of how to thrive.
Q. A few days ago I was fired from the job I had for over a year. The manager claimed I violated the company’s harassment policy but I maintain I didn’t.
I admit that what I said that caused the issue was in poor judgment but was definitely not harassment.
Since then I’ve been really depressed. This is the first job I’ve been fired from for allegedly doing something wrong. It doesn’t help that I already have long-term issues with depression and have been on medication for it.
How do I cope with the situation and get out of my funk?
A. My counsel is for you to work harder to gain some clarity about your actions. Then, regardless of whether this firing was justified, you should concentrate on not repeating this mistake, turning the page, and moving forward.
If you are taking medication for depression, get in touch with the prescribing physician and ask for a checkup and referral for talk therapy. This human contact will help you to strategize about how to put your funk behind you and make a fresh start. You might be inspired by reading the latest edition of the classic book for job-seekers, “What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers,” by Richard N. Bolles.
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