Dear Abby: Visiting relatives let their autistic child run wild in my home

Host is intimidated about telling the boy to stop climbing on furniture and soiling things with his dirty hands.

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DEAR ABBY: How do you deal with a relative whose child is autistic when they come for holiday dinners and let their child climb on the furniture like it’s a playground and walk around the house eating and touching everything with soiled hands?

These parents constantly post about “treating him like a normal child,” but they don’t treat him normal with expectations. I’m tired of having to constantly supervise him and feel intimidated about saying things like, “Please don’t climb on the furniture, sit at the table when you eat, wash your hands, please,” etc. What’s your advice? — TENTATIVE IN FLORIDA

DEAR TENTATIVE: Quit allowing yourself to be “intimidated” and tell these parents you would prefer your socializing to be adults only — for the reasons you stipulated in your letter. Or, when you would like to spend time with them, arrange for it to be al fresco rather than inside your home. (Thank heavens you live in a state with a mild climate!)

DEAR ABBY: My grandson passed away three months before his daughter was born. When she was 6 months old, her mom moved in with her new boyfriend. We were allowed visits for a couple of years, but then that stopped, so we had to take the mom to court to get visitation again.

We learned our visits had been stopped because we referred to her boyfriend by his name instead of “Daddy.” We are not allowed to tell our grandchild who her father is. At what age should a child be told the truth, and how is all this going to affect my granddaughter? — TRUTH TELLER IN THE SOUTH

DEAR TRUTH TELLER: Your former daughter-in-law may prefer her little one call her boyfriend “Daddy” because the man is the only father figure your granddaughter has ever known. The time for her to be told all the facts would be when she’s old enough to understand the information AND her mother chooses to tell her about her biological father. The truth should not negatively affect her.

DEAR ABBY: I need your thoughts about a good friend who, at the end of the month of my birthday or the first week of the next one, hits me with a birthday card. Then she says she doesn’t know my exact birthdate but at least she remembers the month and, therefore, I should be thankful.

Four years later, I am tempted to tell her if it’s not important enough to remember the day, then why bother? Am I wrong for feeling this way, or should I just be thankful she at least remembers the month? — BIRTHDAY BOY IN TEXAS

DEAR BIRTHDAY BOY: Frankly, you are being a bit picky. Not everyone feels as strongly as you do about personal milestones. That said, however, gratitude can’t be ordered like an item on a takeout menu, which your friend appears to be trying to convince you to do. Because those birthday cards, which are supposed to invoke warm feelings, have the opposite effect, express that you would prefer she save her postage money.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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