Brooke's Stories

Dear, Internet Stranger…

Being in the semi-public eye has been quite a roller coaster ride. I’ve learned and experienced so much in the last year and it has been overwhelmingly good.

But there has been a few instances where I just want to pick up the phone and call some people over their messages and comments (and that’s saying a lot because I don’t use my phone for that).

The truth is, this isn’t just something that happens to me or public figures. It happens to a lot of people, and I firmly believe that the offenders have good intentions. But, that doesn’t make it right.

The first time an internet stranger diagnosed my kid, they diagnosed him with Autism. This is interesting, because in all of the posts up to that point, not one post was a video of him. Some were cute pictures, some were funny stories, but NONE of them would lead your average person to think that he was anything but a ornery, wild and mischievous 2 year old.

So, Autism?

How in the world did you get that?

Better yet, why would you EVER think that it’s okay to diagnose someone’s child with a serious medical condition?

This diagnosis didn’t come from my child’s pediatrician or a pediatrician at all. It came from an online stranger- someone who had never even met my child. Someone who had never even seen a video of my child. Someone who considered themselves to be a professional via experience.

Like I said above, I believe this to not be a malicious message. I think this person had good intentions, and genuinely thought that they were being helpful. But for the love of all things holy, DO NOT DO THAT!

What if I were a naive first time mom with absolutely no experience with Autism? Could you imagine how alarming it would be for someone to diagnose your child with Autism? Could you imagine all of the self-doubt and guilt a mom could feel for missing the signs and symptoms that this internet stranger so clearly saw/read?

The second time my son was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, stating that he had the facial characteristics of a child with Down Syndrome. Now, I want to be clear that all babies are beautiful- Down syndrome or not- and my offense to this diagnosis was because of the gravity of a condition like this, not because I’m above having a child with Down Syndrome.

My offense with these diagnoses is because they are serious, life-altering medical conditions and you, internet stranger, may have just planted an unnecessary seed of worry, fear, guilt and anxiety.

How in the world could someone ever think it’s okay to diagnose someone’s child in their first ever message?

“Hi my name is _______, *insert background story.* I saw a picture of your son and does he have Down syndrome? I noticed that he has some of the facial abnormalities as those with Down Syndrome. I was just curious.”

I’m thankful that I am seasoned enough as a mom (and a heart mom at that), to not take these diagnoses serious. I know my children better than these internet strangers and I trust my children’s pediatrician and cardiologist to be on the lookout for these things.

I’ve seen this happen to other people- in Facebook groups and comments. I’ve seen strangers diagnose a strangers kid with no regard for the seriousness of what they’re writing.

But, please, internet strangers, remember that not everyone is seasoned. Not every mom is confident. Not every mom has been through the medical ringer with their kids (open heart surgery, sepsis, febrile seizures, EVAS) and it’s beyond rude to diagnose someone else child when they didn’t ask for your input.

You may mean well, it may seem like a harmless observation, but not everything that crosses your mind needs to be said.

My son is a lot of things- a heart warrior, wild, mischievous, challenging, hilarious and rambunctious. But, as his mom, I’d be the first to notice if he had (another) serious health condition.

Mommas have enough to worry about. If you want to help out and offer advice, there are tons of online forums and groups for moms who want to talk to moms just like you and who would really appreciate your input. ❤️

Motherhood stories about why you should keep your opinions to yourself on social media. How to be supportive of other moms on the internet.

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