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Autism…11 years old…indecently exposed.

Posted by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM
  • 26 Replies

Yesterday we visited our favorite swimming spot. I was prepared for Vincent's behavior: wanting to splash other children as an attempt to join the fun. I have to remind him over and over again to play nice and not to splash or roar loudly. What I wasn't ready for was to be asked to get out of the water by the park rangers. Someone had reported that Vincent had indecently exposed himself to other children.  I was heartbroken and really stunned he had never done anything like that before.  I apologized and told them he has autism and that I would definitely have a strong conversation with him. As I began to feel like crying through my explanation the male ranger seemed sympathetic however the female ranger was obviously angry. As if I wasn't horrified already she told me that I needed to be careful because if someone would have called the police instead of notifying them, he could have been arrested for indecent exposure.

 We grabbed our items and my heart felt like it was going to explode all I wanted to do was to get out of there. Can we ever go back? This goes beyond teaching him personal space...has anyone had something like this happen? I asked Vincent why he did that I could not get a clear explanation but really I was just hoping to get one.

This morning I felt like crying and struggled to get out of bed. I am so scared of the future, of other people and disappointed with myself by not handling the situation with strength instead of fear. Vincent loves swimming in that park and we have been visiting for years. But now I'm thinking we cannot go back. So in addition I also feel guilt over possibly denying him from one of his few favorite activities.

by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM
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by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 4:04 PM
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She was out of line. Arrest an 11 yr old. Your child's autism is not an extension of your parenting and you should not have been asked to leave but take child aside and talk. Better the rangers explain to him than humiliate you this way.  You should have been treated better. I'd report these fools. Eleven is still a child and if autistic may be at the level of a seven yr old in some ways and yet adult like in others. Talk to the director at least. Ask that he explain the issue to your child as it will have more impact than if it comes from you. Explain this to director.

by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 4:07 PM
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Oh god, how dramatic were they?! He's 11, its not like he's going to be arrested! I'm sorry it's so upsetting, maybe you can find another place to swim.

Violet's Mom

by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 4:16 PM
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My son does that - dont feel bad.  He also likes to walk up to starnge women and request to look at their boobies. He is 12.

by on Jul. 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM
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You're not alone in this type of behavior, even if it is embarrassing.  Don't be afraid to go back, but be prepared to leave too.  While we KNOW this Autistic world, not every one gets it and will jump to conclusions.  I have to put myself in their shoes at times and be ready for explaining DS's behavior while trying to understand outsiders opinions too.  It sucks having to walk the line between SN and NT.  Try not to take it personally, but use it to your advantage as a teaching example of natural consequences. 

by Darby on Jul. 12, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Oh good grief...they were being ridiculous!  Hugs mama!

by on Jul. 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM

 I just want to say thank you all for the support I am so glad to have a place like this with parents that understand.

by on Jul. 12, 2013 at 10:43 AM
My 5 year old was in the front yard yesterday playing with the neighbor kids. He took off his pants anderwear and took a nice big dump in the grass. The kids and their parents were horrified. I was too (but also secretly doing the happy dance inside my head because he didn't go in his pants!) I hadn't disclosed his diagnosis to them because its still so new and we aren't that close... But I shouted at him to cover up, said "I'm so sorry. He doesn't understand. He has autism" and I rushed him into the house. We've been playing a lot of role playing games lately. And apparently he was trying to be the dog. :-/ I totally feel you mama. And I think the rangers were overboard. No cop is going to arrest an 11 year old boy with autism for showing off his weiner.

For us, because I yelled for him to stop, it will be something he persevarates on. He's already talked about it 3 times today and he's been awake for 2 hours. I use that as a way to discuss appropriate behavior. If your son is the same way, that may help.

As far as the future, I think you should definitely go back. Have you ever told him that we don't expose ourselves to children while swimming? Probably not. Now that you've had the conversation, if you think he understands, I would definitely go back. At least now the rangers know about his autism and if something else does ever happen, maybe they can explain to the complaining parents.
by Bronze Member on Jul. 12, 2013 at 11:31 AM

So sorry you had to go through that.  Getting an idea why he did it and observing if he does it elsewhere could help you prepare for a return to the park.  Keep him closely supervised if you return.  It happens to all of us at some point.  My son pulled down his pants during a baseball game, thankfully my husband caught him before he ran onto the field~ Not one of our finer moments~!

by on Jul. 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

I'm so sorry!  They WAY overeacted.  When my ASD son was 5 - he took off ALL of his clothes - underwear included and laid down inside one of those big plastic "castle" play areas...I didn't even realize until a little girl ran out screaming "he's naaaaaaaaked!!"...I KNEW then it was my son.  Stuff happens...people need to chill.  Your son is 11 years old.  Just explain to him why he can't do that - his private areas are PRIVATE! :)

by on Jul. 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM
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Wow, it sounds like she was having a bad day and took it out on you. 

When I was a camp councilor, one of the 12 year old girls FLASHED a man who was not affiliated with the camp in any way. She did not have special needs in any way, and she understood social roles well enough to climb to the top of the popularity ladder with her peers, and yet she also did not understand not to expose herself in public. 

I guess my point is that these things happen at that age. They happen for different reasons, but I wouldn't consider it to be uncommon in general. No one is going to call the police, and even if they did, they wouldn't arrest him. because that would just be ridiculous and they have better things to do with their time. 

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