Autism Watch: 2007

So who’s normal?

Posted on: January 18, 2008

If you’ve read this blog for a while, or my old one, you probably know that I have an issue with what ‘normal’ is. There are times where I think that those on the autism spectrum are much ‘normal’ than we are, and how I’d love to have some of my son’s kind of normal in my own character…but that’s for another day.

Anyway, today I went to pick up my son from school. I wait for a few minutes, among droves of other parents. As my son runs out, literally knocking me over backwards into someone standing behind me, he’s yelling, excited to see me. Then he sees another boy from his class, and steps up to tell him goodbye. Granted, my son is over-exuberant often. He’s a child of extremes, always has been, and it’s only continued and sometimes worsened over the years. So he grabbed this little boy’s arms exuberantly, saying “Goodbye!” and other similar phrases repeatedly. The little boy responds, smiling, but mom instantly goes on alert. My son is not only half the size of this other seven-year-old child, but he’s clearly not hurting this little boy at all. I pry ds’s hands off the boy’s wrists, tell him to tell him goodbye for the final time, we’re leaving. Apparently, that means “give a big bear hug,” because that’s what he did. Mom looks even more disturbed. The friend standing with her looks aghast (I’ve never had the opportunity to use that word until now!), mouth hanging open. Maybe in her world, boys don’t hug or this boy is made of glass. Either way, he was smiling and laughing, and mom starts to say “Okay, that’s enough.”

Stop the truck. I’m right there. My child is not hurting your child. Your child is playing along, laughing, and you see that I’m in the process of leading my child away. So you feel it’s necessary to say something? Meanwhile, even though I’ve looked up and smiled, you can’t acknowledge my presence and basically treated us as though we were some dirty homeless bums with leprosy asking for spare change. 

What is wrong with people? This woman must know by now that my son is special needs. He has an aide. He clearly has some issues that she’s seen, because she’s a hovering mom. Hover all you want…but have a little compassion. Or plain out, be nice. That’s what’s wrong in this world today — people are nowhere near as nice as they could be, and so often refuse to open their minds. Children are routinely rude to others because mom and dad let them, and often under the guise of “Well, I want MY child happy, and being nice or not trampling your child to get in line first, well, those things don’t make my child happy, so I’m tolerating his rudeness because his happiness comes first.” Way to go.

Sure, I’m being a bit judgmental here. Not everyone’s like this, and out of those who are, some have valid reasons. Others, they aren’t selfish on behalf of their kids — they’re just ignorant.

I don’t believe necessarily in announcing to the class that your child is autistic, since so  many people mentally check him off the list for a party or encourage their child to play with someone else, but I’m beginning to lean more and more towards some sort of ‘special needs talk,’ or something that addresses the fact that all children are different, some behave differently, and that we are nice to all…then send a copy home for the parents. It could mention that there is/are special needs in the class and we need to remember that before we make faces or judgments or shorten our party lists, without singling out the child/ren.

All that aside, if someone hugged my son too hard, he may not like it but I’d not let my mouth hang open. I’d not tell the other child to get off, unless he was being hurt or the child had no supervision, and even then, I’d still think twice. My son wouldn’t make a judgment or decide that child was weird. He blessedly doesn’t notice these things like ‘normal’ people do. I wish I could be more like him, not being bothered by what others say or do about us. (I’m not even brave enough to go pick him up at school without changing out of my comfy clothing and into something ‘acceptable,’ nevermind the fact I was fully-clothed and what I was wearing wasn’t bad…) So who’s normal — we ‘neurotypical’ people who make judgments of others and stare and worry and even dare to state our opinion towards another whom we don’t even know, in a negative way, or the people who disregard all that, don’t interfere with others’ lives, and are happy. I think I’d vote for the happy people.


1 Response to "So who’s normal?"

AMEN! J is into the bear hugging as well. Only he does it to complete strangers and aquaintences to whom he is apologizing (usually for a playground infraction). So all of his apologies come with a hug no matter who you are or how long we’ve know you. It sort of freaks some people out, and others think it is cute. But its better than Little J who doesn’t want to apologize at all.

P.S. there are resources out there for helping kids understand kids who are different from them. (coloring books, hand outs, posters, etc.)

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