DEAR ABBY: I have a child with autism. He's my world, and I love him deeply. Because he has special needs, I can't afford a babysitter, so my parents watch him all the time or I cancel whatever I need to do that day.

Because my parents are my only source of babysitting, they think they don't have to listen to me. If I tell them the time I give him his medication, so don't change it, they think he needs it earlier, and they know better than I do. I'm constantly second-guessed, and if they don't agree with my decisions, they go behind my back. If I buy my son a new toy and my dad doesn't like it, he screams at me and makes me feel 2 inches tall. He was an absent father, and my mother can't relinquish control of anything.

I'm at a loss on how to handle this because I know they want what's best for my child, but so do I. As his mother, shouldn't I be able to make that decision?

-- My child in Illinois

DEAR MY CHILD: Yes, you should be able to make decisions regarding your son and expect that they will be respected. However, your parents have you over a barrel, and they know it. You do not have to tolerate it. I suggest you contact the Autism Society (autism-society.org). When you do, you will be connected with a local branch for guidance and options.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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