As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, I want to share a few things with you. And I want to do things a little differently. To start things off on a good note, will you take a few minutes to watch this video? This is a segment that appeared on the ABC News television show “What Would You Do?” They installed hidden cameras and actors in a cafe to see how diners would react to an Autistic child misbehaving. Would the diners whisper and make fun and/or outrightly say rude things. Or would they choose love and be supportive. Have a look to find out……
Interesting, isn’t it?! I was so happily surprised at the reaction of the diners in this restaurant. It gives me tremendous hope for the entire human race that these individuals chose compassion and acceptance over judgement and ridicule. To take up for the family instead of agreeing with the instigator. To encourage them to stay rather than push them out allowing themselves a more peaceful dinner. HOPE. That is what families like mine need. Across the board. Hope for advances in research and science to help our kids. Hope that through therapies, programs, and education our children can have the best life possible. And hope that society will embrace and accept them rather than exclude them. Whether their disabilities are obvious or not. It is a tall order and not easy in the slightest. But I have HOPE! And that television segment only encouraged me to have it even more! 🙂
We have never personally experienced someone directly making comments such as the ones the actor made. But we have had TONS of scowls, stares, glares, head shakes, eye rolls, whispers, minor comments, and parents who don’t allow their kids to play with ours. It is heartbreaking, obvious, sad, and unfortunate. And I hate that my son and our family have to be subjected to this kind of treatment. But all we can do is do our best. To be kind, to educate when asked, to love others as we want to be loved, to pray for those who are ignorant or who choose ignorance, and to work constantly with Cannon to help him to be more comfortable and calm in public. It is a process. A learning experience for ALL of us. And it will take time. But that is just the way it is…….
The hardest part for us is when we are in public and Cannon’s shirt comes up, revealing his diaper. This is the one that I DO get verbally chastised for often. I have heard so so many suggestions, critiques, and outright mean-ness. Things like…..”How could you LET him wear that?” Or “You know you COULD potty train him!” Even children have teased him, calling him a baby and singing songs of a teasing nature. First, I want to scream that he has Autism…..he is not DEAF. And that their words hurt, whether they think he hears them or not. That he IS a real person with real feelings who IS trying to learn. Our doctor believes that their may be a disconnect between his brain and his “lower half”……not allowing it to get the message that he needs to go to the bathroom. Do I go into that kind of detail with a stranger? I also want to just burst into tears……tell them the whole story of the last 2 1/2 years. About all the hours sitting in the bathroom trying every method and reward system known to man, the tears (both his and ours), the doctors visits, tests, procedures and hospitalizations. And sometimes I just want to whip out his Beads of Courage and allow them to do the talking. But again, I just have to do what Jesus would do and be kind, treat them with love, and the way they would want to be treated. Sometimes I explain a little. If Cannon is out of ear shot…….due to my previous statement about him not being deaf. And sometimes I just remove my family from the situation. It just depends.
I recently found a couple of very useful and informative lists that I want to share with you now! This website (Autism Island) has taken the time and thought through what you should and should not say to a parent or caretaker of a child with Autism. I think they are right on and would really appreciate you thoughtfully looking through these suggestions and taking them to heart. Let’s start with should NOT…….
What do you think? Surprised by any of them? I would love your feedback and any questions if you have them. Feel free to leave a comment below! The ones I hear most often are #13, #23, #25, # 26, #33, #37, and #42. I do get annoyed when people try to pinpoint and figure out what could have caused Cannon’s Autism. I just feel that at this point……that is irrelevant. I KNOW that research must go on and try to figure out the cause. Absolutely! But for me, in my life, I don’t need reasons. I need help TODAY and for tomorrow. I can’t look back. It’s done. He is who God intended him to be. Now, my job is just to give the best chance at a great future.
Now, let’s end on a positive note and read the list of what you SHOULD say to a parent/caretaker of a child with Autism………
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of this exhaustingly long post! Hopefully it was worth it! I pray that these suggestions were helpful and will further provide awareness as to how best to SUPPORT families like mine. With a little love, awareness, and acceptance……this world can truly be a better place for ALL! God bless!