We live in a society where judgement is made in a matter of seconds, based on appearances, our thoughts equate a judgement upon those that cross our line of sight in three seconds, oft with little information other than that which we see before us. The moment a child is seen lashing out, angry, crying and disruptive, a judgement is made, both of the child and of the parent.
Usually, it can be argued that appearances are all we have to go by when it comes to making judgements on others we don’t know, I would argue that appearances can be deceiving, and that we should reserve judgement until we are properly equipped to do so.
Which brings me to the point of today’s musings, as a parent of an autistic child, I have seen time and time again the looks of disdain that my child, and I get whenever my child gets stressed and begins to cry out or lash out. The sheer disdain that these people seem to display towards myself and my child often makes my blood boil. The amusing thing is, the ones that care to offer a “helpful” word often just repeat tired old clichéd words that have little to no bearing of the situation at hand.
Instead of inquiring as to the cause of the child’s distress, judgement is made and nothing comes of it. The lack of awareness and understanding of Autism is what causes these judgements. I find it incredibly frustrating as a parent to have others look at me as if I’m the cause of all society’s ills just because my child has the audacity to be noisy in public.
There are times where I wish to tell some of these people where they can stick their judgemental words and looks of disdain, and yes, it does anger me that people would rather assume that I lack skill as a parent and that my child is merely a brat, purely based on viewing a microcosm of the daily interaction between my child and me.
You might enquire as to why the actions and words of others should bother me, especially if they are people I do not know. Being a parent is no easy job, it becomes that much harder when your child is autistic. Usually you are able to tune into your child’s responses, interactions and manner of thought to be able to understand their needs and cause of upset and rectify the situation, with an autistic child, it is simply not that simple.
What works today to placate the child’s upset, what will give them peace of mind today, will not always work tomorrow, the stimuli that causes upset is not always clear nor abundantly obvious, and as any parent of an autistic child can tell you, communication is not always easy.
Any parent has to learn on the job, even more so with an autistic child. My wife and I have been given a plethora of techniques, ideas, words and actions that should help to calm the situation when my child gets upset, by trained professionals. I can tell you now that I can count the number of times on one hand when any of those techniques have word flawlessly, and on one finger when one of those techniques has then worked the next day.
Parents of autistic children do not need judgemental words and looks, they do not need the disdainful looks that they and their child often receives when their child is stressed. All I ask is that more understanding is shown, and more consideration. Remember, were you in my shoes, would you wish to be judged, to be thought of as a lesser parent merely because your child is stressed? Reserve your judgement, and remember a little understanding goes a long, long way. It might not make any difference to you, but it will be the world of difference to a parent of an autistic child.