And we need to help others get it, too.
This is in response to this post. Which generated this post.
I wanted you to know that I didn’t judge your worthiness as a mother or a human being by your post. I am the Mom of a typical kid, and I think if not for friends that I have whose children are on the autism spectrum I may have taken the situation the same way you did. After all, that type of situation DOES happen with typical kids, too.
The behavior the child exhibited IS very much an indicator of a child on the spectrum, but perhaps you didn’t know that. I get that. It happens.
Yes, a lot of angry Moms with kids on the spectrum slammed you about the post. And I think several sane Moms of kids on the spectrum responded without the vitriol, but trying to inform. And, yes, sometimes even the sane Moms get frustrated.
I am not a Yahoo. I am not looking to attack or disparage you. I am also not a mom of a child on the spectrum.
I am 45 years old, and have made comments about and had plenty of strong opinions about my perception of unacceptable and/or disruptive behavior by children, and the apparent lack of parenting skills of others.
But as I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve learned more about autism and other spectrum disorders (a dear friend has a child with Asperger’s), I’ve thought back on some of those incidents and had V-8 moments. “Aha! THAT’S probably what was happening. That child likely was on the spectrum!” I’ve even thought back to kids I knew in elementary, middle and high school that were likely un-diagnosed high functioning Aspie or Autistic, and had terrible times trying to get through school. Although I was never out and out cruel to any of those kids, I did tend to ignore them…
And as I’ve watched my friend parent her child, and read her blog and the blogs of other ASD parents, I’ve also come to understand that these kids cannot be parented the same way. And I’ve seen and read about their struggle to cope not only with their child’s behavior, but the nasty looks and comments from other adults and children who don’t know and don’t understand that, “In just a minute,” needs to be said whether it’s going to be just a minute or an hour. They just don’t understand what they’re looking at. And the parents are often too afraid or tired or focused on the child to offer an explanation to witnesses. Sometimes explanations really help, and sometimes they really don’t.
People have opinions and make judgments. It’s what humans do. It’s not that these people are bad or evil, or even necessarily ridiculously judgmental. They are just unaware.
I do get it now, but it took me almost 45 years. I have become the Mom that offers an encouraging smile to caregivers like that grandmother, and when other Moms start talking about an apparently misbehaving or disruptive child I’m the one that says, “Well, perhaps that child is on the Autism Spectrum, and the parent and the child are doing the best they can today.”
And even if I’m wrong, so what?
What am I hoping for by writing you?
First, that you’ll know that not everyone is making a snap judgment about your worthiness by this post. You’re human. It was frustrating. I get it.
Second, that the next time you run into a child with similar behaviors you’ll consider that they may, indeed, be on the spectrum, and perhaps offer a smile of encouragement to the child and the caretaker.
Lastly, that you’ll join me in becoming a Mom who will offer another possible explanation for a disruptive child’s behavior so that other unaware Moms can look at another possibility, too.
Best of luck,
March 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm
Good on you, BeThisWay.
It is most encouraging to hear from someone who gets it.
And it’s never too late to learn.
March 26, 2010 at 9:28 pm
I’m genuinely glad and grateful that there are parents out there of neurotypical children who have compassion, who have learned some things, who pay attention, who get it. And I know that it can take time for information or awareness to sink in. What I don’t get about this particular situation is the response from the blogger *even after* people explained the likelihood that the child was autistic. And more generally egregious was her complete willingness to gleefully mock a four-year-old girl that way, autism or not. That’s not a comment on her parenting or her worthiness as a human being. It’s a comment on her humanity.
And finally, as an autism parent, when I read that gleeful tone and the cheers of the commenters, even with more information about the girl’s likely autism, it felt like things I’ve lived before. You want to trust that people will at least try to be understanding, even if they’re not fully informed. You especially want to trust that people, with information in-hand, will have some kind of compassion. And then you find–in real life and in posts like that one–that this wish to trust in others? It’s a castle made of sand. To autism parents like me, that post and those gleeful comments were like a window into the minds behind the stares we get in public or the scarcely discreet comments directed at us or our children. It hurt to suspect it. It hurt even more to see it laid out so clearly.
Thanks for posting your link over on my blog. It’s good to have these insights from people who don’t have the same experiences.
March 27, 2010 at 6:57 am
I’ve noticed that people, in a misguided sense of loyalty, will often defend and attack on behalf of their friends. Especially in the online/blogging world. But honestly, no matter how much you defend poop, it’s still poop.
Being generally optimistic, I am hopeful that her reactions (and those of some of the commenters) were knee-jerk defensiveness, and hopeful that as time goes by she will begin to get it, too.
March 26, 2010 at 10:50 pm
I noticed the catchy title of your blog and had to stop by. Doing that I clicked on the link of the mother’s story. She is quite funny, I have to say. Although, as I was reading it, I found myself gearing up for an enlightening comment about this 4-yr-old, but scrolling down, I see that wasn’t necessary. I appreciate your post. As a parent of an asd child who would have responded EXAXCTLY like that girl, we do feel on the spot, judged, and too tired to explain all the time. I wish there were more people like you out there that CAN help stand up for these kids and their parents by suggesting there could more going on than just “bratty” behavior. Being judged and having our kids judged is just awful and we face it all the time. Thank you for helping get the word out.
March 27, 2010 at 7:53 am
Nicely said! I’m seeing more compassionate responses, such as yours, toward Smockity, than angry ones. I hope she sees that.
March 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm
I agree with goodfountain on your post. It was refreshing. However Smockity’s post goes beyond Autism & Special Needs. It’s hypocritical to her own religion. I have no compassion for Smockity but I do believe everyone has the right to say what they want on their own blog. With that said if you don’t want to respect all comments why have comments available at all. My problem with SF is I found Smockity to be a scary and dangerous individual. I am a person of color, have an autistic child, and am low income. By Smockity’s Snarkiness I can just envision the Eyerolling I’d get from such a “Good Christian Woman.” By the way the only “disability” disrupting my home is an atypical tween.
I appreciate your post and it is a breath of fresh air, thank you!
March 29, 2010 at 11:47 am
Hey, I found this blog via the comment you left on my blog. I wanted to say that I really, really liked your post… I think it’s one necessary viewpoint in a multi-faceted debate.
I’m aware that compared to yours, mine might seem uncompromising, but I hope that you’ll understand that I think there need to be many, many voices in this conversation–and voices of anger or advocacy have their place as well.
Now, I’m going to enjoy looking through your blog!
March 29, 2010 at 11:59 am
Thank you, Waif. I completely understand the point of view in your post, and my reply wasn’t because I thought you were “wrong”. I just wanted to add my viewpoint. It’s a terrible habit I have.
I hope you enjoy looking through my mishmash, much-neglected blog. Thanks for visiting, and commenting!
March 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm
I’m leaving this comment on all the blogs I linked to and which haven’t yet cited it: SmockityFrocks issued a sincere apology today.
March 31, 2010 at 8:16 pm
Sincere? Perhaps. But she seems to still be convinced that she encountered a typical child. I’m not so sure…
Thankss for the update, Shannon!
June 21, 2010 at 3:09 am
I’m a father of a ASD kid (mild to moderate) and Non- ASD kid. My parenting is probably average on ability and good on effort, i guess. Both have their own needs and adapt to situations in their own way. I’ve learnt the art of preparation for most daily situations inside and outside the family home.
As both my kids are similar age (5yrs and 6yrs) i have a good measurement of comparison, meaning i can gauge both my son’s level of behaviour. On a good day people can’t distinguish between either child when standing still and quiet, on a bad day there is extreme differences.