Friday, July 22, 2011

You're Not Helping

Autism is one of a group of serious developmental problems called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that appear in early childhood — usually before age 3. Though symptoms and severity vary, all autism disorders affect a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.
Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior. But because autism symptoms vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. In most cases, though, severe autism is marked by a complete inability to communicate or interact with other people. (

Yesterday I decided to venture out and take Deuce to the indoor bounce house spot. How could I pass up an opportunity to let him just go nuts, only spend $3 AND get to be in the AC? So after his nap I put clean socks on him, picked up my sister and we headed to an afternoon of fun!

Fast forward to Deuce discovering the biggest bounce slide in the building. He was like a little magnet, drawn to it with such force there was no denying him access. As he climbed up that monster another child climbed into the area where the children landed after barrelling down the incredibly large slide. Figuring that he was about 8 I gently coaxed him out of the area. I didn't want him to get knocked out by another child and I didn't want Deuce to get hurt as he came down (the 8 year old wasn't exactly small). Unfortunately my interaction with this child didn't end. He decided to move to the entry area of the slide and proceeded to start jumping. Now he was completely blocking any other child from being able to play. So again, I gently coaxed him into moving. This time he took off running. Now I was ok with this reaction as were the 2 other parents that were watching their children. And then IT happened!

The 8 year old had gone and gotten his mother. She walks up to me and ask me did I tell her son to stop jumping. Knowing that I was completely right I told her yes I did. She then states that he has AUTISM and no one else had a problem with him jumping on the slide. She then wanted to know if he was hurting anyone. I told her that I ask him to move from one spot so that he wouldn't get hurt and from the other because he was preventing the other children from being able to access the slide. She again stated that he was AUTISTIC and then she walked away talking out loud about how dare people tell her son what to do.

Now the other parents who were observing this had looks of disbelief on their faces. One mother simply shook her head as she watched the woman walk away. The father on the other side of me shrugged and went back to watching his daughter. As for me I was furious! This woman had no ideal that I am a teacher and that I deal with autistic children on a daily basis. She just assumed that I had no clue as to what autism was. And while this made me angry, what made me furious was that she had just used her son's autism as an excuse for improper behavior. Not to mention she wasn't even in the area watching what he was doing. Anyone else see something wrong here?

After having a full day to think about what happened this is where my mind is:
I firmly believe that this mom is still in denial. She doesn't have a full understanding of what autism is. If she did, then she would know that autism is not something that you use as an excuse for poor behavior. It is so important that her son is still taught right from wrong. Perhaps she thinks that when people look at her son they will automatically know that he's autistic. Sorry ma'am, your son is autistic, he doesn't have Down's Syndrome. Physically he looks like every other little boy. She's probably over whelmed by what autism does to a family. It really isn't the best practice to not keep a watchful eye over your child when you know that he does things that may interfere with other children's fun.

Perhaps I'm being judgemental. I hope that I'm not appearing to be judging her. A dear friend has an autistic son. Her family had to dig deep within themselves to find peace and understanding. It wasn't an overnight thing. It took time, it took prayer, it took faith. But there was, is, and will always be an expectation of proper behavior in their household. I've been to their home many times, and while their kids do kid things, they have always corrected and redirected them. And this holds true even for their autistic child. See they know that you can't use autism as an excuse for not becoming a decent individual. Now the tactics may have to be changed but the lesson is still taught.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow Heather. I totally agree with everything you're saying. I can honestly saw that that lady needs to understand that by doing what she's doing she's crippling her child. It reminds of the movie Ray when Ray Charles' mom didn't help her son off the floor when he fell. It looked cruel but sometimes "help" is best done when one creates a situation another can learn from on their own. It's not the complete solution but it is part of a vital way to teach (I think so anyway). :)