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Saying “fire” doesn’t burn my mouth. Saying “water” won’t drown me.

October 1, 2012

Saying my son has autism to a stranger won’t make me feel guilty.

I received a bunch of feedback regarding my run-in with the little girl and her grandmother at the playground yesterday.  Thank you to all who responded.  Your kind words are reassuring.

The gist of the feedback was that I was being too hard on myself, and that I did what I could do in an emotional situation with as much equanimity as I could muster.  Well, I guess.  As I mentioned, I don’t like to whip out the “autism card” and wave it around, expecting special treatment.  But my feelings about “just saying it” have now eclipsed any guilt, personal pride or embarrassment I might have.  If it’s going to mean less anguish for my son, I’m going to do it.  I’m crossing a long bridge here.

Another wrote me wondering what the hell happened to children just obeying adults–on the playground at least.  That’s a good question.  I recall that if an adult spoke to me about my behavior in public–stranger or not–I heeded their words.  It seemed like it always would get back to my mom and dad, that’s why.  What has changed in the 38 years since I was 5?

Still another wrote that maybe what appeared to be a little stuck-up brat of a girl was perhaps herself not “neurotypical”.  And perhaps this grandmother was in a similar situation as me, ie. not knowing just what to say about the child’s behavior.  The grandmother sounded like she wasn’t born in the states, so maybe there were cultural differences.  It’s possible…

But not likely.  I still don’t buy it.  The whole episode still ticks me off.  As my friend Susie said, “Where are the other parents who “got your back”?  Isn’t the whole point of taking your kids to a playground so they won’t have a meltdown?”  Was granny really that clueless?  And what of the little prima donna?  A little sheltered, perhaps?  Wake up, kid!  You’re gonna need the clue I’m about to give you.

At the end of the day, I’m left with the understanding that so many people still think everybody is normal.  All kids talk in complete sentences and play ball and tie their shoes and listen obediently to their elders.  They brush their own teeth and sit calmly in a movie theater.  They understand the concept of “personal space”.

But everybody is not normal.  Some kids grunt and whine instead of saying “I love you” and will dash up to you in a restaurant and try to help themselves to what you might be eating.  Some still wear diapers and grab handfuls of feces and smear them across the walls of their houses.  It makes me tired just typing that.  Walk a mile in my shoes, indeed.

So, yeah, no more fear, embarrassment or shame.  My son has autism.  Deal with it.  And get the hell off of the swing.  It’s his turn.

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From → Alex, Autism, Family Stuff

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