Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Do you ever feel like this mom?

Posted by on May. 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM
  • 108 Replies
2 moms liked this

Dear Shopper: My Son Has Autism, So Please Stop Judging My Parenting

by The Stir Bloggers

autismWe love the blog Flappiness Is because writer Leigh Merryday tells the truth about what it is like to parent a child with autism. There are good days and bad days and everything in between, but the love shines off the page like a beacon and it is impossible to not to love them all right back.

She was kind enough to share a post with us for Mother's Day and you will see why we love her. See below:

Dear Shopper,

Yes, I know. I’m well aware that my child is screaming. Not just a regular scream, but an ear-piercing, sanity-shattering screech.  Even if I wasn’t seeing and hearing it, I would know by the expression on your face.

Clearly, you have raised your children better than me.

That is what you were wanting to say, right? There certainly can’t be any other purpose to you stopping in your tracks to stare or elbow your companion  or better yet — give knowing looks to other shoppers passing by.

I have no doubt that you have wonderful, well-behaved children.  Grown, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens who would never have dreamed of screaming like this in public when they were children.  Judging by your expression and utter exasperation, you’ve never hesitated to let them know who was boss.

And I know that you did your best with your children, that you loved them, and want all children to have a solid upbringing in which to start their lives. You are, in all probability, a good person. You probably don’t mean any harm.

This is what complicates what I want to say to you. Because, despite my anger towards you, I happen to have been raised well too. I don’t want to be ugly, even though right now I feel like it.

Because I know some of that anger is misdirected. It is misdirected because I, too, have stood in judgment of someone like me. I, along with almost everyone, have stood in public and watched a scene like this one play out and thought to myself, "Clearly she has no control over her children.  When I have children, mine will never behave like that." I, like most people, wasn’t quite as obvious about it as you. I didn’t stare or make comments that could be heard.  But I was every bit as decided. So, some of my anger is really directed toward Human Nature, who refuses to be put in its place.

The nice thing about human nature, however, is that it can be overridden. And all it takes is but a single experience, a single human interaction, to the contrary of your own strongly held convictions. Then presto whammo — you are a new and hopefully improved person.

Let me introduce you to my child. Like you, I marveled at the miracle of life upon becoming his mother. Like you, I rocked, burped, and inhaled his sweet baby scent and thanked God over and over for the gift of him. Like you, I had certain dreams for my child. There your path and my path diverged somewhat.

My precious child is autistic. Yes, I’ve seen Rain Man, and, no, my son is not likely going to be a great card counter. The truth about autism is that it encompasses a wide spectrum of abilities. And, like you and me, every autistic child who has it is different from the next. Yet they do often share some similar traits – sensory overload and meltdowns are one of them.

Every person on the planet has what I think of as an internal alarm system. Most of us have ours in good working order. But some people with autism have what I like to call a hair-trigger alarm system. Theirs can go off with what seems to average folks like little to no provocation. There IS always provocation. Non-autistic people simply aren’t as sensitive to seeing and hearing the triggers, and that’s when the alarm goes off. And when it does, it’s loud.   Everyone in the vicinity wants nothing more than to have it turned off, including the people who love them. When you see me "placating" my child and "giving in" to his tantrum, I’m really just desperately looking around for the alarm key or trying to remember the right code to turn off that blaring alarm. It isn’t his fault. And, no matter how upsetting it is for you, let me assure you it is that much more upsetting for him.

I’m sorry that you haven’t had quite as pleasant of a shopping trip as you had anticipated. It hasn’t been so pleasant for me either. Problem is — I have to feed my family, deposit my paycheck, pick up prescriptions, etc. just like you do. And, unfortunately, no one arrived at my house today to watch my child so that his autistic behavior wouldn’t upset anyone in public. I have to leave the house and so does my child. Because I have to teach him about the world. I have to let him practice controlling his alarm system. So that he, too, can possibly be a productive citizen making come true all those dreams I had for him when he was so small.

With so many advances in early detection and therapy, many of us will be able to see most of those dreams come true for our unique children. And for some of us, our dreams will have to change for our children. We may need to re-define happiness and success.  For life is like that. We constantly have to reevaluate our expectations of ourselves, others –and, sometimes, even the grocery store.

I’m hoping that your single human interaction with me has given you an opportunity to be a better person. For, with 1 in 91 children being diagnosed with autism now, you are going to have a lot more opportunities to make a positive impact in the life of someone like me. All it would take would be a smile, a pat on the back, or a “Bless your heart, honey, hang in there” to refill a stressed out parent’s reserve of patience and calm. You could be the bright spot in our day. And, then, if you want, you are welcome to ask all the questions you want.  Your curiosity doesn’t offend me in the least.  Most of us aren’t the least bit upset to talk about our kids – any more than you are.  If anything, it is an opportunity to educate and dispel myths.

And, maybe, just maybe, you will be standing there when the alarm gets turned off.  Maybe you will get to see what every mother wants the world to see – the wonderful personality of her child, in our case hidden behind a mask of fear, anger and frustration.

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll get to see the one hidden behind yours.

Do you ever feel like this mom?

by on May. 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.

owl0210
by Emerald Member on May. 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM
8 moms liked this
You're going to discipline a stranger's kid? Please elaborate.

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
ColtsFan1912
by FriendoftheFoot on May. 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM
2 moms liked this

so how would you go about disciplining a child that isn't yours oh wise one?

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.


"Sing it out, sing it out, take what is left of me & make it a melody, Sing it out, sing out loud, cant' find the words to sing, You 'd be my remedy, my soul, my soul, I'll sing with what's left of me" Switchfoot

vegaswife2011
by Emerald Member on May. 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Yep

vegaswife2011
by Emerald Member on May. 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM


So your kids are perfect and you discipline other people's kids?

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.



Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 13, 2013 at 11:03 AM
5 moms liked this
If your autistic child is going to scream like that, it is your job to leave the store - not silently curse all the people who are inwardly losing their shit because they don't understand. Come back without the child or when they are calm.
Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

I'd probably stare at the mom with a look of disgust or complain of my headache or tell her to control her brat. No, I would not grab her kid out of the cart and spank them, but if the mom was still shopping or something, id probably look the kid in the eyes and tell them that is impolite and adults are trying to shop in peace, and he needs to calm down and be good for him mommy.   Whether or not he listens to a complete stranger is up to him, at least I tried for the mom's sanity and mine and other customer's.  (BTW, in OP's post it said- Yes, I know. I’m well aware that my child is screaming. Not just a regular scream, but an ear-piercing, sanity-shattering screech.  - to me this means her sanity is shattering and I think she could use some help, if I wasn't in a  bad mood Id try to help

Quoting owl0210:

You're going to discipline a stranger's kid? Please elaborate.

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.


Miller0305
by Platinum Member on May. 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM
8 moms liked this
I'd like to see you try to discipline my kid. I don't judge parents or kids when out in public. You never know the circumstances.

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
squocket
by Bronze Member on May. 13, 2013 at 11:12 AM
4 moms liked this

I think you think you are being helpful, but you are totally clueless. Perhaps it wouldn't bother you one bit if a stranger tried to pressure you or your child into behaving differently, but it does bother most parents. Expect negative confrontations or, at least, to be ignored. Oh, and mind your own business.


Quoting Anonymous:

I'd probably stare at the mom with a look of disgust or complain of my headache or tell her to control her brat. No, I would not grab her kid out of the cart and spank them, but if the mom was still shopping or something, id probably look the kid in the eyes and tell them that is impolite and adults are trying to shop in peace, and he needs to calm down and be good for him mommy.   Whether or not he listens to a complete stranger is up to him, at least I tried for the mom's sanity and mine and other customer's.  (BTW, in OP's post it said- Yes, I know. I’m well aware that my child is screaming. Not just a regular scream, but an ear-piercing, sanity-shattering screech.  - to me this means her sanity is shattering and I think she could use some help, if I wasn't in a  bad mood Id try to help

Quoting owl0210:

You're going to discipline a stranger's kid? Please elaborate.

Quoting Anonymous:

i excpect parents to discipline their kids whether or not they are autistic or normal. I do not expect to go into a store and their kid do an ear piercing scream because If you don't discipline your kid, I sure as hell will.




A_McCool
by Silver Member on May. 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM
1 mom liked this

I've never felt like that mom, but I do feel sorry for that mom and that kid.  My mom was that mom.  I remember when she would take me places she would beg/plead with me or threaten me with punishment telling me not to embarrass her.  I always did   I always touched/smelled everything, wandered off, or just became completely overwhelmed and threw a fit.  I've always hated shopping.  I hate the smells, the sounds, the having to try on a bunch of different ill fitting clothes.  It was overwhelming.  It was exasperating.  It was torture.  As an adult I still can't do full day shopping trips, I want to get in and get out.  I was diagnosed as having Asperger's as an adult.  As a child I was thought to be a brat, and I was treated as such.  It did not help my behavior at all.  It did not lessen the terrible experience for me.  It made me more exasperated and overwhelmed because I knew that I was expected to do these things calmly and peacefully, but I could not do it.  

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)