As a special needs parent, I’m entitled to bad days. Not because I feel sorry for myself, but because being a parent is filled with challenges. On top of that, I am overly protective of my son. Since he isn’t able to advocate for himself, I have to be his voice. Unfortunately, there are moments when I feel the need to protect him from people who stare, whisper and judge my innocent child. Most of the time I can let go, but on other occasions, I feel like I want to explode.
The above mentioned people include friends, family members and strangers. I have a few requests I’d like to make to these individuals.
Please don’t stare and hover over my child while he eats. He is not a caged animal in a zoo for your viewing pleasure.
Please don’t try to carry on a conversation with my son when you can clearly see he has difficulty responding. My husband will tell me you’re just trying to be nice. Well, I find it frustrating.
Please don’t yell when talking to my son. He’s not hard of hearing, he has difficulty communicating.
Please don’t forcefully hug him when he clearly isn’t interested in reciprocating. He has the right to make decisions about his own body. No means no.
Please don’t tell other parents in the community that you feel a child with autism – or any special needs child – doesn’t have the right to attend the local public school. It’s not your decision to make.
Please don’t doubt my son’s abilities or interests because he has autism. He is a person and he enjoys doing fun things just like any other child.
Please don’t cry for my child because he has autism. I will not name the individual who is guilty of this but I was appalled when I witnessed this shameless display.
Please don’t laugh when my son uses the wrong word or uses echolalia. He’s still developmentally behind with his language and communication skills.
Please don’t tell me at my own dinner table that you’ve been around my son enough to know that “something is wrong with him.” This person is lucky I didn’t slap him across the face.
Please ignore my son when he uses a loud voice to express himself. He has some volume control issues. Your lingering stares are rude and unnecessary.
Please don’t tell me that my son “doesn’t look like he has autism”. I don’t know how to respond to that and I find it offensive.
Please don’t tell me to “leave him alone” and “let him be” when I feel he is doing something inappropriate or non-functional. I’m his mom and only I can make these decisions.
Please don’t discuss my son to other people. He has the right to privacy and his life is not your story to tell.
Last but not least, please do not feel sorry for me or my son. We don’t need your pity, we are just fine.
I know my requests aren’t realistic. Someone will always stare, someone will always whisper, someone will always judge. I can usually shrug it off, but when I’m having a bad day, it can get the best of me.
I admit, this isn’t a very positive blog post, and for this, i apologize. But I find that writing out my frustrations and grievances is cathartic and therapeutic. I also believe that I’m not alone and maybe you can relate.
We have to remind ourselves that we are doing our best and from time to time, there will always be a bump – or a giant pothole – in the road.