Have you ever had a day where things seem to be going ok and then right before your eyes your child does something and another parent swoops in on the attack?
Your child might have pushed another kid or threw sand… Well when your child is on the autism spectrum and doesn’t have the social skills of other children his age, people will swoop in for other reasons as well. Such as, your kid wanted to play tag with a baby learning how to walk and when he tagged the baby it actually knocked the little one over. Or your child realized a bunch of kids were going down the slide and wanted to be apart of the fun so laughing loudly he pushed his way to the front and didn’t wait his turn.
I understand the injustice of it all. There is a higher expectation for older kids based on age, and an even high expectation on kids who are taller for their age because they look older. No mother wants to see her toddling baby shoved by a bigger kid. No dad wants to see his daughter knocked down a few steps when she had been waiting her turn so a taller kid could go ahead of her. I promise we are working on it. We are practicing every day. As a parent I understand these actions are not ok.
Autism is a reason, not an excuse
Mr. L has come such a long ways. Every trip to the park isn’t full of saying sorry. They no longer involve me circling Mr. L like a hawk trying to anticipate his every move, nor do I need to sprint across the park on every trip.
I do still keep a close eye on him, but I’m learning to let him attempt social situations and he is really good at saying, “Oh! I’m so sorry” in the event of an accidental bump.
Basic protocol for outings
What do I do if I go to a park or party and my child with autism doesn’t fit in? If he yells, runs, stims, etc? Depends on the situation, but the basics for us are:
- Is he hurting anyone? Stop him and apologize (he likes to play with little kids and doesn’t always know his strength, etc.).
- Is he intruding? Politely introduce my son, explain with a sincere smile he has autism and move him along.
- If he is innocently playing, and just being unique (laughing loudly, echoing, running in place, etc.) but is not infringing on anyone’s safety or paid experience? I smile encouragingly, keep an eye on others around us, laugh with him and join in his world.
- If people (usually kids) ask why Mr. L is doing what he’s doing I smile and positively explain that he has autism and that his brain just works differently than theirs, but that he is still smart and likes to play just like other kids.
- If someone is uneducated and rude about my child, they obviously are not ready for my advocating/ friendly information… They get a quick, “That’s my son, he has autism. I’ve got it” If they continue to verbally attack, I usually give them the mother’s look of, “Enough, crawl back into your stupid hole before you make this into a big deal”. I’ve never got more than an angry mumble after that.
But really, that #5 rarely happens. A couple times a year at most. I know it might ruffle my feathers for a day or two and make me want to go back over every step of that day, but beyond that, #5’s are never worth more time than that. I try to congratulate myself for standing up for my special child. I dust off their drama and straighten my crown as I walk away. I usually file the experience away under “A difficult win” in my mind and just pick up where I left off.
Life is too exciting to live in fear. My son has more to gain and learn by going out and trying again tomorrow, than he does by staying home where it’s easier.
So how do you handle awkward parenting moments? Do you advocate? Apologize? Do you wish you handled awkward moments differently? Let me know in the comments below!
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