And we need to help others get it, too.
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,