Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where is the village?

The other day I read this post from Jacqueline, a blogger I recently discovered that also has a child on the spectrum.  This post really resonated with me, it brought up many memories of experiences in the past with Limefreckle Jr., where I felt completely uncomfortable around other parents. 

Limefreckle Jr. was a HANDFUL when he was younger!  He had many behaviour problems, meltdowns happened on a fairly regular basis (sometimes daily).  He was a very physical child, didn't recongize boundaries, saw no problem in knocking over another child if they might be in the way.  He CRAVED physical contact, and would often grab other children in big bear hugs, he thought they were having fun, the other children didn't always feel the same.

I learned over the years how to cope with this.  I worked on strategies to help him "keep his hands to himself".  Most of the children that he encountered were kind, undertanding, and, truth be told, often seemed to enjoy the physical contact as much as he did.

The parents of these other children, could often be an entirely different animal.  It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child.  That has not been my experience.  Don't get me wrong, I've sought out our village, I've found plenty of support, and I'm grateful every single day for those people that are in our lives.  But I don't feel that society acts in any way like a village.  In my experience, I feel society seems to be a lot more filled up with parents that think they know better, that rush to chastise your child at the first sign of any indescretion towards THEIR child.  I've met so many helicopter moms (both of typical children, and autistic) and it saddens me.  Some women seem to be so quick to point out your child's failures and flaws, I swear it's not really about the child, but more about their need to show the world that THEY know how to parent better, THEY must reach out to your child to teach them the things in the world that YOU have clearly failed.

In this day and age, 2013, when 1 in 50 children have autism, there is simply no excuse for ANYONE to not know a little bit about autism.  It's not acceptable to walk up to strangers, people who you know absolutely nothing about, and tell them how they should be parenting their children.  YOU ARE NOT HELPING!  If you see a family in distress, a child acting out, a child "misbehaving" YOU ARE NOT HELPING THAT MOM WHEN YOU TRY TO TEACH THEIR CHILD HOW YOU FEEL THEY SHOULD BE BEHAVING".  If you want to be of assistance, ask the mom, if there is anything you can do to help her.  I remember vividly being in a grocery store one time, and LJ was acting up.  A stranger walked up to him and started telling him that he was too old to behave that way (she had no idea how old he was, he's always looked at least 4 years older than he really is) and that he needed to stop.  I've never understood what would compel a complete stranger to step in and take over for a parent THAT IS STANDING RIGHT THERE!  Another time I remember being at a splash pad, he was running around, having a fine time, I was on the periphreal, keeping an eye on things (and so was the lifeguard).  He was sliding down a 3 foot slide headfirst, which seemed to anger another woman, so she started yelling at him.  She wasn't even on his radar!  I walked up to her as I heard her exclaiming to her friend "where is his mother?" and I said "I'm right here.  He has autism, and you yelling at him isn't even registering to him, he needs a calm approach".  She looked shocked, and told me "He has autism?  I never would have known" and then she told me that she works with children with autism!  "God help those poor children" is what I WANTED to say to her, instead I just told her that Autism comes in all shapes and sizes, all children aren't severely affected.

Excuse all the caps, clearly, although we've come a long way since those days, it doesn't happen anymore, those feelings are still very raw and on the surface for me.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, the hardest part about raising a child on the spectrum is most often (for me) having to deal with other parents.  Our society is a dog eat dog world, filled with supermoms who feel they are much better at parenting than everyone else, and can't wait for an opportunity to show you  where you are going wrong.  I used to apologize to those moms, and leave feeling deflated and inadequate.  It never feels good to be treated like you are "less than" and quite frankly, I'm tired of hearing that moms of special needs children need to develop a "thick skin".   Maybe the other moms need to take a page from their own lesson book, and learn some manners that they are often so quick to try to teach to our children. 


Alicia said...

I wanted to thank you for all of the information you gave me for my paper. I was able to find tons of Journals about ABA and IBI therapies. I also think we will be taking our son in for a second opinion. Your doing great mama!!