Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whyyyyy?

I do not understand why kids with Autism are treated so poorly by society in general. I know this is a common question, but I think that only parents of Autistic kids can fully comprehend it. Jason and I have virtually no friends. The two or three people who will associate with us only do it sporadically, and prefer not to have Jaymes around when they are. None of the other moms in the neighborhood want a thing to do with me. I'm not an unpleasant person, I generally get along with everyone. I'm quiet. Unfortunately, my son is not.

When I first met our one neighbor on the corner, she was out feeding her horse. Good common ground, as we were getting ready to buy Jaymes a horse at the time. We chatted about her fencing, her kids, etc. A few days later, Jaymes and I stopped over and he played a little while. But each time we saw this mother, Jaymes would show a little more of himself. Started out just wandering around her house, opening the fridge. Stopped him, but you could tell she was a little creeped out. She knew from day one he is Autistic, so i don't know what she was expecting anyway. I stopped him, of course, as always. It progressed to him screaming once or twice if I stopped him digging into something.... Then one day to a tantrum in her driveway as I was getting instructions on how to care for her horse, who I had agreed to watch during her vacation. That was pretty much it... She doesn't speak to me, just a wave now and then. When we walk by on our little trips down the road, she and her kids go indoors.

You know, I get it, I really do. It's awkward to watch someone's child throw himself on the driveway and beat his head and scream. I know. But he's not like that 100% of the time. Jaymes loves other kids. He sees her two year old son and wants to play... But I have to stop him because it's become evident we're not her type of people.

The only other kids on our street are older, 9 and 12 I believe... they do come play with Jaymes, which is great... But they're annoying as anything. Someone explain to me why these kids can play with the other neighbor's kids, with their awful behavior, and mine can't?

These kids, a boy and a girl, will walk right into your house. No knock, nothing. They just invite themselves in! Apparently they have done this to most of the people on the street. They've only done it once to us, thankfully we were both fully clothed, not doing anything we didn't want seen, etc... But seriously. Who lets their kids do this? Not only that, but they'll come at the kids bath time, and pound on our door. Most people will leave when their knocks go unanswered- but do these children? Nope. They will go from the front door, to the side, to the back door banging as hard as they can. For 30 minutes. Without stopping. Yelling at my dogs to make them bark. GO AWAY, DAMMIT.

I am not the mean type. I love that the kids want to play with my kids, I really do. But I like my personal space. You do not come into my home without permission. You knock once, if I don't answer, you go away. You stay the hell out of my horse pasture. If you get kicked, I'm liable. I don't have liability insurance, and I sure as heck don't have the money to cover your medical costs. True, my horse is the most well behaved old man I've ever met, but that isn't the point. You do not constantly pick up my not yet two year old daughter and dangle her upside down on the trampoline. Sierra knows to run to me when they appear.

The reality of the situation is that I need to tell the kids to cut it out. Everyone on the street has had to have that chat with them. I'm not that kind of person. I don't want to be mean, it's very uncomfortable for me. I prefer avoidance to confrontation. I also don't want to piss off their father, who is a stereotypical red neck. He's got a vicious dog chained in the back yard, they have bon fires for fun. Spare car parts in the yard...etc. I don't want to get shot. And so, I avoid it. Jaymes loves them so much, too, that I guess tolerance would be prudent.

My kids don't run wild and unsupervised around the neighborhood. They don't barge into other people's homes They don't damage property, nor do they damage gardens or harass animals. They stay on our property, under constant supervision. I expect them to behave. So why aren't my kids good enough to play with yours? Oh wait, Sierra is. She's fine, bring her over anytime. Riiight.

I'll tell you why. Because my son doesn't understand when you tell him he can't touch the electric fence because it's on. Because he doesn't understand turn taking. Because he wants to wave your broom back and forth across his face, and snuggle a big rock in your yard. Because when I stop him from something, he falls to the gound screaming and crying, until I have to physically drag him home.

But you know something? It's been worse. It can be worse. You have never seen the worst Jaymes can get.

Know something else? Jaymes isn't a spoiled brat. He's not getting away with everything. He's not neglected, or ignored. He's not a bully, nor is he doing anything in a mean spirited way.

He has Autism. My child is what he is, and the most any of us can do is work to try and make it easier for him to function in a world that cannot, or will not, bend to accomodate his needs.

4 comments:

Vraslli said...

I just happened to come across your blog from reading the posts on fugly horse. Anyhow, those kids that come barging into your home remind me of the next door neighbors kids from when I was young (like 6 or 7). They had a girl around my age named Ashley that would come straight over to our house at 7am and walk right in. She wanted to play with me and my sister. My mom started locking the door and then Ashley would start banging on the door, screaming for us to come outside and play with her. My mom, God bless her, is Asian and a bit strict. She went out and yelled at Ashley for a good 5 minutes and told her that if she wanted to play she would have to learn some manners. That actually worked. So no more 7am knocks and screams at the door. Not saying you should yell at the kids, but kinda just let them know that sometimes you don't feel well (or some other reason) and that if you don't answer the door, its because of that and they should just go home. I don't know. It might work. Good luck to you.

Amber said...

LOL, glad I'm not the only one dealing with this! When i was a kid, no one did this stuff, it just floors me to see the way kids act these days. I'll havce to get up my nerve and tell them to cut it out. It seems they've been off at camp this summer or something, have not seen them since school ended.

all-canadian said...

I think that most people don't comprehend autism, without some sort of personal experience. Honestly, if someone were to ask me what autism is right now... I don't know exactly what I would say. And I helped out at a therapeutic riding center, and worked with kids with autism. I learned so much from them... about how to help them, but also about people in general. They are so sensitive, you have to analyze everything you say and do.

I'm going to add you to my blog list, so I can keep checking back (I found you through fugly). I think you do a good job of conveying both the love and the frustration you feel. You really should write a book! (like you mentioned in your first post). Maybe you could help educate people about the disorder... promote understanding, and all that. You must be a very tough person.

BCC said...

I have two thoughts here. The first is regarding the older, well-meaning but wild "barge-in" neighbor children. Constructive criticism is an art form. People who are naturally able to disagree, but do it politely are in possession of an enormous gift - personal diplomacy - that the rest of us have to practice, very hard.

We had a pair of neighbor children who behaved similarly. I had to train myself to sound like a teacher: friendly but firm. "Nice of you to visit, but we're busy now. We'll see you another time. Goodbye." "Thanks for dropping by but the kids are napping/eating/bathing. We'll see you later - have a good day." Practice saying those words in a friendly but no-nonsense tone. Whatever you do, don't let an "I'm sorry" sound creep into your voice - then they'll think the subject is open for debate and they can persuade you. Just be firm but nice. It gets easy surprisingly fast with a little practice. :)

Second thought is about the woman with the younger children who is afraid of Jaymes. Maybe there's a way you can get to know her a little bit individually, like while Jaymes is at school? She's probably lacking in understanding because she's lacking in information. But, you can teach her a little bit and as she gets to know you personally, and Sierra personally, she will be more open to Jaymes. She needs more familiarity and knowledge. This could be a good thing for everyone.

Best to you.