17 Things ‘The Princess Bride’ Taught Me About Autism Parenting

A light-hearted look at parenting lessons from one of my favourite movies.

All images belong to Twentieth Century FOX.

1.  Affection doesn’t have to mean saying I love you

Reading a story to someone who’s sick in bed, saying “as you wish” or playing rhyming games that annoy your boss… there are many more ways to show love than just those three little words.

2.  Optimism can get you through the fire swamp

Just because you haven’t tackled a problem before doesn’t mean there’s no solution, even for POUS’s (Problems of Unusual Size).

3.  Having a target will help you stay focused

You don’t have the energy or resources to tackle every challenge that’s in front of you. Find your six-fingered man – prioritize your goals, work out which of those you can tackle and then pursue them with everything you’ve got.

4.  You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles

Be patient. Change and growth takes time, and there are no corners to be cut here. Every kid is working to their own schedule and developing at their own rate.

5.  Don’t believe the hype

There are people who make a lot of money from making you believe in the Dread Pirate Roberts. Snake oil salesmen bank on the fact that you will be too distracted by fear to focus on things like facts and common sense.

6.  Never start a land war in Asia

Well that’s just good advice.

7.  Success means using the right moves for the terrain

The choices that other people make may not be the right ones for your family, and vice versa… and that’s okay. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel otherwise.

8.  There’s not a lot of money in revenge

Don’t spend your life feeling bitter, blaming yourself, hating autism or resenting parents of typically developing kids. It’s a fruitless and costly waste of energy that can be directed into more productive things.

9.  Inconceivable doesn’t mean impossible

Your kids will achieve things beyond what you ever expected or imagined. Believe this and they’ll believe it too.

10.  You may already have a wheelbarrow

It’s easy to focus on liabilities, but don’t forget to take stock of your assets too. What skills do your kids already have that they can use to help navigate their challenges?

Princess Bride - Inigo wields his sword

11.  Who says life is fair? Where is that written?

Let go of the expectation that you have more than your fair share of crap to deal with. There are no shares. You don’t have a big pile of crap, you have life. Go live it.

12.  Sometimes words don’t mean what you think they mean

If your kids are having trouble communicating, look beyond the words that they’re using. Thinking about the way the word is being said or the broader context can help you to recognize echolalia or find clues to the word’s intended meaning.

13.  Wiggling a finger is worth celebrating

Take time to enjoy even the smallest of accomplishments, for they were hard earned and are signs of bigger things to come.

14.  You always come back for the ones you love

Let your kids know that no matter how hard things get or how confusing life may be, you’re someone they can depend on to help them find the answers. After all, true love doesn’t happen every day.

15.  When there’s no time to explain, use a summary

Practice summing up their main challenges and needs so you can recite them quickly when you need to explain or get help in a hurry. “My son is autistic and finds loud noises frightening, is there somewhere quiet we can wait?”

16.  Mostly dead is slightly alive

Even when you’re too tired to breathe and the odds stacked against you seem enormous, you will survive to fight another day.

17.  It’s one hell of a story

Sure there’ll be laughs, adventure, pain and tears… but at the heart of it all, it’s about love.

Have fun storming the castle!

14 February, 2013 by Bec Oakley

Bec Oakley is an autistic writer and proud parent, with an intense passion for 80s text adventures, Twizzlers and making the world a better place for autistic people and their families.