Dear Annie: I've been married for over 15 years and have two children, one of whom is autistic and nonverbal. We have worked so hard to make life "normal" for my children despite many strange looks, ignorant comments and lost friendships.
What I'm having a hard time with now is my in-laws. Four years ago, they totally banned us from their lives because of our son. My husband's brother was married around the same time, and although my in-laws see him and his children numerous times every year, they find weak excuses not to visit us.
I feel terrible for my children and my husband, although he sees nothing wrong with his parents' behavior. We've tried talking with my in-laws, educating them, reasoning with them, even begging them, but nothing has changed. They send cards and money for birthdays and holidays, but that's it. There is no real love.
Should I just give up? Feeling Betrayed
Dear Betrayed: Your in-laws have already given up on your behalf. If cards and money are their only method of communication, accept it as such, and don't expect more. As long as this doesn't seem to bother your husband, there's no reason you should make any greater effort to involve grandparents who don't wish to be part of your children's lives. It is truly their loss. How sad.
Dear Annie: I am extremely dissatisfied with life. I am very intelligent, but I never have been able to finish my education. I have a terrible problem with math and always have had a problem concentrating. I am very easily distracted. I think I may have adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
I am in my 40s, and have had too many jobs to keep track of. I bounce from place to place. I have tried many different things, but nothing holds my interest for very long. I get bored and I need to move on, which, of course, doesn't help.
Do you know where I can get more information about ADD in adults? Is this something I could be tested for? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Can't Sit Still in the Midwest
Dear Can't Sit Still: The main symptoms of adult ADD are distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness. Talk to your doctor about being tested for adult ADD, and discuss with him or her the available treatment options. For more information and a self-administered questionnaire, try the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (www.add.org) at P.O. Box 543, Pottstown, PA 19464.
Dear Annie: Please help me find a response for those ignorant people, mostly women, who keep asking me, "When are you due?"
I am 27, slightly overweight, though not obese, and carry some excess weight around my mid-section. However, I am not pregnant, not married, and I never know what to say to this question, especially since it happens quite frequently. It is always such a downer. I am sensitive about my size, having been slightly overweight my whole life, although I eat healthy and exercise regularly.
People need to know this is not an appropriate question to ask, regardless of how obviously pregnant a woman is, unless you know for sure. Not Pregnant, Just Fat, in Connecticut
Dear Not Pregnant: One should never assume a woman is pregnant, no matter how big she appears. Considering how often this happens, you'd think people would have more sense. Simply fix them with an icy stare and reply, "I'm not pregnant, but thanks for bringing it to my attention." That ought to keep them quiet for a while.
XE-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, Ill. 60611.