Hey parents of Autistic, Asperger’s and other ASD kids! Some of us parents of typical kids get it!

And we need to help others get it, too.

This is in response to this post.  Which generated this post.

Hi Connie,

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,



Is Your Decision Not to Vaccinate Your Child More Important Than the Population’s Health at Large?

Nothing like a little controversy on a spring afternoon…

When I was a little girl I remember standing in a long line in the elementary school gymnasium, waiting to get my state-mandated immunizations. They wouldn’t let me in school without it, and I’m sure it never entered my parents’ minds to even consider not getting us immunized.

I also remember kids getting mumps, and measles, and other diseases you rarely see today.

When I was pregnant with Son I became more aware of the concern about a possible link between autism and immunizations, and the concerns are still there. The Thimerisol used as a preservative in many vaccines was such a cause for concern and received so much bad press it’s no longer used as an ingredient in vaccines today. The link between vaccines and autism has been the subject of many scientific studies; they just can’t seem to find any science linking it. But the passion behind the “anecdotal evidence” is hard to ignore, or dismiss, especially when you are a new mother thinking about allowing these vaccines to be injected into your child. Which left me confused.

Are the vaccines worse than the diseases they supposedly protect from? The vast, vast majority of children suffer no ill effects, and many of the typical diseases that were still around when I was a kid have been mostly eradicated due to the great majority of children being vaccinated. I’ll bet the parents of many autistic children, and children who may have had other suspected or proven vaccination-related issues, would say yes, the vaccines are worse. They may regret their decision to vaccinate. And who can blame them?

So as a new parent I was very afraid. But in the end I decided to go with the odds and have Son vaccinated, though I spread out the timing a bit. That probably did nothing but make me feel like I was doing something to mitigate the risk, but whatever. Apparently I’m not above a little self-delusion.

Every day I searched for signs that he was having “ill affects”. I willed him to make eye contact, which he did. And when it became obvious that he was having some speech delays I was terrified. We put him in speech therapy and enrolled him in school two mornings a week, and we prayed. We’re lucky that he was done with speech therapy at age 3, and I recently had him evaluated and the results were all typical for his age. Thank you, G-d. We are blessed.

Still, I’ve wondered if there is truly a link. I have friends who have chosen not to immunize, and I’ve always understood and supported their choices. I still do. It’s such a personal decision.

Recently I heard about the twelve children in San Diego who contracted measles, which can be a fatal disease, especially in the very young or immuno-suppressed. Nine of the twelve had not been vaccinated. Three were too young, and six had parents opposed to the vaccinations. On the Today Show the other morning they ran a story about this, and asked the question, “Is your decision not to vaccinate your child more important than the population’s health at large?”

That’s quite a question.

Vaccines are not 100% effective. Children who have been vaccinated can still contract the disease. The more unvaccinated people there are, the more risk of transmission.

So, where does your right to decide for your child end and your responsibility for the public health begin?

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I’m reminded of a story I read many years ago, while still in high school. Now I want to warn you, this is one of the most depressing stories I’ve ever heard, but what can I tell you, I was reminded.

I don’t recall all of the details, but it involved people hiding in an underground bunker hiding from oppressive forces (Nazi’s?) * searching for them. A woman was holding her very young infant, and the baby’s cries were putting the entire hidden group in great danger of discovery. The mother put her hand over the child’s mouth, and eventually the soldiers moved on. Everyone survived, except the baby.

That story has haunted me ever since. What a horrible, horrible decision to make. What a horrible, horrible action to take. What a horrible, horrible thing to live with. There was just no way to win.

Can we win? Isn’t parenting just making the best decision you can, and praying for a good outcome? The decisions I make as a parent, even decisions that seem to be only related to my family, can have far reaching effects.

What do you think? Did you/will you have your children immunized? Does the population at large factor into your decision?

*  Edited to add that Husband says I didn’t read it, but that it was a scene in an episode on M*A*S*H, and the oppressive forces were the North Koreans.

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