What comes around…

March 30, 2010 at 5:09 am 12 comments

     Last week, the autism blog world was in an uproar over a post written by a woman who witnessed a child who was clearly autistic, even though the poster didn’t recognize it. There’s been some discussion since about how anyone can diagnose the child based on the writer’s description (and it’s really irrelevant to the discussion), but let’s face it, we can. Most of us (correctly) diagnose kids in the grocery store every day. We can spot those kids a mile away, and even easier, we can spot their caregivers simply by the words they speak. “Yes, granddaughter, you are being very patient waiting in line,” even when it’s obvious the child isn’t being patient in terms of neuro-typical standards. But we know that language; it’s the language of someone who has probably worked harder than anyone to get that child where she is, actually in a library, standing there without screaming, seeing another child doing what she wants to do without having an earth shattering melt-down. Let’s face it, that’s something to be rewarded with praise. 

     Yet this blogger responded with harsh judgement at how both the child and the grandmother were handling themselves. Couched in humor at a child’s expense, she praised her own behavior in not verbally condemning the pair, all the while congratulating herself for her own restraint. In actuality, that grandmother probably went home and celebrated how well her granddaughter did at the library that day waiting “patiently” in line. We’ve celebrated those things; the first time C left the park without a tantrum, the first time I was actually able to get him into the grocery store (see here), and the first time C made it through a movie. These are big deals for us, and I’ll just bet that somewhere out there a grandmother is still glowing about how well her little one did at the library that day. 

     I was struck, as I read the post and the comments that followed, by how much that woman sounded like me BC (that is, “Before C”). I was the one in the grocery store wondering why a mother couldn’t control her screaming child. I was that person who, it pains me to admit, would have glared at a child disrupting the sacred quiet of the library. I was the one on the airplane groaning inwardly if I was unlucky enough to sit near a toddler. I would like to think I hid all that from the mothers parenting those children, yet I know how terrible I am at hiding any emotion I have. I’m quite sure I was responsible for my fair share of causing other people pain.

     Then, nine years ago, I received my cosmic lesson in the form of C. He changed everything for me. I became the mother who worked so hard with C before ever stepping foot in the library on his “library voice.” It’s hard for other people to understand just how much work it takes to get our children to do what they do. You see, we, and other parents like us, try to anticipate every single possibility that might arise in any given situation. And we train for them. Sometimes, we just miss, and sometimes our kids just aren’t there yet. “Didn’t you talk to him about not sending the bowling ball down someone else’s lane?” Husband innocently asked after hearing my tale of C standing in his own lane and somehow sending the ball right over the middle into the next guy’s lane. Then we laughed at ourselves for ridiculously trying to be two steps ahead of C when we’re really two steps behind.

     The irony of my own situation in once being like that blogger is not lost on me. For all our talk about helping our children with autism learn empathy, the fact that I had my own lesson to learn about empathy, and that I had to learn that lesson from my own child…well, I suppose that is my cross to bear. Don’t think for a minute that I don’t know there’s some version of karma operating here. The thing is, I’m so thankful for that karma. I can say with a smile that I am so much better than the person I was ten years ago. I haven’t been given just what I can handle; I’ve been given exactly what I need.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Reflecting Opening Doors

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tiredmama  |  March 30, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Are you in my mind? I think you pulled that post right out of my heart.

    Before kids, I was one of those people who would look at other children and think, “If only that was MY kid, he/she’d never be acting that way.” And then I was blessed with my C. (And my Liv.) My mind has been forever changed — for the better.

  • 2. Cheryl D.  |  March 30, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Great blog! The blog you’re referring to totally escaped my notice. I’ll have to goggle out there and try to find it–although I’m sure it’ll make me angry as hell.

    I enjoyed the part about us having to anticipate things to “prime” the child. That’s been my whole problem! I can’t anticipate EVERYTHING and some of the things that have set my child off have been on the bizarre side! LOL.

    • 3. Cheryl D.  |  March 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

      OK, I found the blog! OMG! That woman was crazy! Not to disparage someone based solely on religion, but for someone who carries a bible around to read, she certainly came across as judgmental and unchristian! Even if the “offending” child weren’t autistic, why didn’t she just speak up to the grandmother and child and tell them that her girls JUST sat down and didn’t have much of a turn yet and that it would be a little while? By not saying anything, she gave them the impression that they would be leaving soon. On, she must have been trying to transmit that info telepathically! Silly me! What’s wrong with people? Also, those snide comments of superiority because her girls looks at books first, while this girl didn’t. Well, bully for them! I’m glad she blogs about her superior parenting of her 7 children (or was it 10? I got confused by the math). We’re all so much better for it! Gee, thanks!

      I love the power to blog. I do love that all of us can “publish” our thoughts to the world. But there is a dangerous side of the coin to this! LOL!

  • 4. pixiemama  |  March 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    love you just as you are.

  • 5. 5kidswdisabilities  |  March 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    This really hit home. I had the misfortune of taking my son who is autistic on a plane ride. He could not handle the noise and the restraints, and he SCREAMED and KICKED the back of the seat in front of him the whole way! It was sooooooooooo embarrassing! The lady in front of me, rightfully upset, but not understanding his behavior, told me I should spank the heck out of him to “teach him a lesson”. (Oh, yeh, spanking would REALLY help!!!) On the way home, I made sure to get a prescription so he slept the entire way home.
    Lindsey Petersen

  • 6. therocchronicles  |  March 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    YES. I feel the same as pixie–did you pull this from my head?! Having the Roc changed countless things about me, for the better. We are all human. We learn everyday.

  • 7. robinaltman  |  March 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I had no clue about this post, but reading your description is enough to piss me off, so I’d better not. It sounds like this woman doesn’t have kids of her own, so I was surprised to hear Cheryl say she has a zillion kids. What the heck? I only have 2, and mine are supposedly neurotypical, but I can clearly remember getting thrown out of Friendlies. She must just be clueless. Her kids are probably closet psycho killers.

  • 8. Shannon  |  March 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Ah, the cosmic lessons. Those are the ones that stick. 🙂

    Please note that SmockityFrocks posted a sincere apology just today:

  • 9. kim  |  March 31, 2010 at 6:48 am

    That was beautiful! Thank you!

  • 10. Elizabeth Channel  |  April 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Wow–I am always the last to know about these frays–but thank you for keeping me updated.

    I don’t know how to respond to this whole situation but I have a lot of thoughts…

    And tomorrow I will hear Temple Grandin speak in person for the first time…

    • 11. Cheryl D.  |  April 1, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      Lucky you! I saw Temple speak last year, right after my daughter was diagnosed! She was amazing! You’ll really like it, I’m sure!

  • 12. Caitlin  |  April 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    “I haven’t been given just what I can handle; I’ve been given exactly what I need”.

    LOVE this! (and LOVE your blog)


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