Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trick or Treating on the spectrum...

I've seen this happen before, but I'm not sure that parents or just people who don't have someone in their life on the autism spectrum ever experienced it so I figured I'd share.

I took my child trick or treating. It's a lot for kids on the spectrum--the colors, the people, the candy, the running! Generally, this is either the recipe for bouncing off the walls and talking far louder than they need to or meltdown central.

A couple kids that are in my kid's class stopped by my kid and checked out the costume. My kid? Bouncing on heels excited. "Check it out! I'm (Character)! I'm (Character)!"

The kids? One said in a very snide tone, "Nice." Poked friend in ribs and then laughed and walked away.

I let it slide.

Same group of kids reappeared later on. My kid had changed masks, just for fun. "Hey! (Kid!) Check it out! Now I'm (Character)!"

"Nice costume." More snickering. I think more comments would have happened, but the one kid? He looked up at me. I didn't say a thing. I just shook my head, sadly. Their laughter faded and they ran. RAN. They weren't smiling when they left.

I'm blinking back tears, not sure how to make it okay for my kid. I snuggle my kid close, mumbling close to my kid's ear, "Hey, buddy, you okay?"

My kid, "Yeah! They liked my costume! Did you hear them? They said it was nice! I'm going to the next house!"

Here's the autistic kids don't get it when you make fun of them, mean kids of the world. They're so excited you're talking to them, they miss the non verbal cues that make what you're doing so very cruel. My autistic kid hears exactly what you say, nothing more, which rocks because they think you're being nice and give you a pass.

Me? I'm not autistic. I see your snicker, I see your pokes, and I can only assume more of that happens at school. I'm sad because although you didn't hurt my kid, apparently no one told you that acting like that isn't okay.

My kid still feels ten feet tall and like a rockstar. My kid lives in a loving and supportive environment where we don't have to talk like that to be cool.

I'm kind of sad for your 'normal' kid that their idea of a good time is trying to hurt someone else. I'm sad for your kid...

But I think mine rocks, even if my kid is talking louder than they need to and bouncing like a ping pong ball. I'll take my good hearted kid, who would cry if they thought they hurt someone's feelings, over a dozen 'normal' kids, if that's a sampling of 'normal'.

'Normal' kids and parents? If you wouldn't make fun of a kid in a wheelchair for being in a wheelchair, why do you think it's okay to make fun of a kid who is different from you? Different isn't bad. And I've seen the parents behaving just as badly, mumbling and snickering behind their hands.

The trick was that you said mean things and maybe for a minute you felt bigger or cooler or more badass for doing it. Maybe you thought it made you superior for being able to laugh at someone else.

The treat is? You're not hurting my kid. I'm the only one who knows what you did, besides yourself. And I hope that when you glanced back at me and your laughter faded and you ran, it was because you were ashamed of yourselves. I hope you saw on my face exactly what I thought of you, even though I didn't say a word. I knew I didn't have to say anything because you could read my expression--something my child will never be able to do.

Teach your children kindness. Teach them that not everyone is going to be like them and that it's okay. Teach them by example and teach them by correction, if need be.

By the way...this isn't the first time or place this happened. I am very sad to report it's the 'normal' in my world rather than the exception.

Which, in and of itself, is really, really sad.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This post brought tears to my eyes. Some people will never, ever get it...and the world will conspire to make their cushy lives cushy enough that they never have to get it. Karma could be a bit faster, sometimes.

    People say things like this are a chance to "educate," but education only works when the stupidity stops.