Autism Confronted a Smoker

So we are relatively new to our neighborhood, we’ve been here like 6 months. There are a few familiar faces but making friends has not been easy. It is always a challenge for others to get to know and understand mr. L and his autism.

My son is 7, has the height of a 9 year old, has the maturity level of a 5 year old, and the speech of a 3-4 year old. Learning how mr. L communicates is an experience for everyone he meets.

The other day my kids were riding their scooters around our townhome parking lot. A couple of ladies I have become acquaintance/ friends with were working on a Jeep and smoking. A man came over to see what they were doing and had his own cigarette in hand.

Well my lovely and friendly son came around, stopped his scooter, pointed his hand inches from the grumpy looking guy and said, “Hey! You no smoke! You can’t do dat.”

The man was obviously not kid friendly and before I could get across the parking lot to intervene, that grumpy coward leaned his face down into my son’s face and screamed, “Who do you think you are?”

Mr. L was confused, I was livid, and the other 2 ladies immediately started to try to defend/explain Mr. L’s actions (bless them 💜). Like I said before, my son is 7. He was diagnosed at 2.5 with Autism. That means I’ve had practice with dealing with uncomfortable social situations involving my son for 5 years.

I walked swiftly and with purpose, little miss A on my hip, across the blacktop parking lot. When I reached the situation I set little miss A down who hurried her little 1.5 year old legs over to her brother and without missing a beat I confronted the undereducated Y chromosome.

With a level, stern, face-off tone I inquired, “I see you’ve met my son”. I felt fire inside me, I showed a calm storm, and I set the tone that I would not be challenged. The man looked down. I waited. The 2 woman looked at him, then back to me. I spoke again, “Excuse me?” The man did not look back up. He took off with his tail between his legs.

After he left, I apologized to the woman. They tried to apologize for smoking in front of my son but I stopped them. I told them, “I don’t care if you smoke. You do you”.

Mr. L shouldn’t have explained the obvious to an adult stranger. My son is learning smoking is unhealthy, he is learning he should not smoke. Mr. L needs to learn not to tell others what to do. He is learning social skills every day, just like everyone else.

Autism is an explanation, not an excuse.

I did not yell at that man. I did not scream or accuse. I defended my son and attempted to deescalate the situation. I want to teach by example. I prefer to teach others about Autism, but that man was not up to the challenge that day.

Do you have a friend or relative on the autism spectrum? Have they ever caused an awkward social situation? How did you handle it? Do you wish you handled it differently? Let me know in the comments below 😊

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