Friday, April 3, 2009

I failed at promoting Autism awareness, but luckily, I have a month's worth of new chances!

Seems like every time we leave the house, an opportunity to give someone a little dose of autism awareness presents itself, but I've noticed that some of those opportunities end up wasted because they make me so friggin angry. I don't know how some of you do it, calmly and succinctly explain to someone being nosy or rude about your child that he or she is autistic and is not being a spoiled brat, this is good behavior and we're proud and blah blah blah. I find myself either to shy to say a word, or too angry to open my mouth without something inappropriate popping out.

Yesterday was a good example of the latter. I had Jaymes at Walmart with me, and he was doing pretty well. No screaming, he was walking with one hand on the cart a lot of the time. Hard to push a cart and control a Jaymes, but he was making it work. First encounter with the woman in wheelchair (henceforth known as WIW) was as we were passing the easter candy aisle. I was super iimpressed, Jaymes managed to walk by all that candy without grabbing, except at the very end, at which point he grabbed some orange M&M's in a carrot shaped bag. I stopped for a minute, not being able to pull him away one handed, and took the candy from him, and we went on, but apparently not fast enough. WIW rammed my cart of of the way as I was moving it, almosy ploughing down Jaymes. Shook my head and went on. a few minutes later, found myself in need of yogurt, and when Jaymes caught sight of the Go-Gurts on display under the yogurts I wanted, he was very excited and bolted to them to fondle boxes. He wasn't doing anything bad to them, and he didn't bolt far, so I was fine with it. WIW appeared, yelling at Jaymes "you listen to your mommy, that is not acceptable."

Now, a mommy with her wits about her might have gone into a logical explanation of Jaymes behavior being just fine, that he was doing a great job keeping it together, and then perhaps explaining autism a little bit. Me? I was flustered, and taken aback at someone else ordering my child to behave when he wasn't misbehaving.

I stood there blinking at her, probably looked more like a trout out of the seafood section than like someone's mother. Finally I managed to stammer "he has autism, it's hard for him to be quiet and stay with the cart." To that she said "oh well it doesn't matter, he still knows." I couldn't speak at that point, I guess the eye twitch I had going on as a result of this reply had momentarily stunned my vocal cords. What would I have liked to say? Hmm...

Um. Who the hell are you, WIW, to tell me what my son should know? Who determines what behavior is acceptable and what is not? I have bigger battles to fight than whether Jaymes runs 5 feet to grope the yogurt. He's not opening it, he's not hurting the boxes, he's not in anyone's way. STFU and go harass someone else's child.

I wish I knew a good, logical, eloquent way to tell people that this is Jaymes at his best. This is behavior I'm ok with. I'm proud that we can come to Walmart and not have to deal with a screaming, flailing child anymore. I'm proud to have Jaymes able to walk next to the cart, I'm proud of his trying to help by putting random items in the cart. I'm proud that he'll put things back on the shelf when prompted. How do you explain to someone that behavior they would consider inappropriate (Jaymes running to the yogurts), that behavior like that is ok with us, because it's such an improvement on the old? A year ago, he'd have run up and ripped open 5 boxes of Go-Gurts before I'd stopped him. He'd have thrown little tubs of yogurt across the dairy section.

So you know, WIW (as if you'll ever read this)... Disapprove all you want, but don't lecture me or my child because I AM PROUD of him. Jaymes has come such a long way, and yes we still have battles, it's still a mess part of the time. But if you only focus on what needs fixing, on the bad behaviors, what kind of life is that for anyone?

On the plus side, we did make people aware of autism.


kristi said...

Yep, older people seem to be very opinionated. Most of the time I shake my head and walk away.

Heather said...

I loved this post, since I've been in that position many times as I'm sure other ASD moms have. I think you handled WIW just fine, and your simple explanation of your son having autism made, I'm sure, a bigger impression on her that flipping her the finger (tempting though, isn't it?)

Kelley said...

Meh, I would have told the bitch to get up and tell him herself.

And then flipped her the bird.

But I am beyond caring these days ;)

Princess Fiona (according to my husband) said...

I would have told her to get up outta that chair and tell him herself!

Then flipped her the bird. (common theme here)

Odd Mom Out said...

You should have had Jaymes push her and her wheelchair or at least pelt her with some gogurt.