I saw a tshirt advertised on facebook the other day that read in big block letters, “I AM A MOM OF A CHILD WITH AUTISM,” and I thought, “Hm. Don’t need that!” And then I thought about how quickly I assumed others know that about me, about us, about The Boy.
The Boy doesn’t flap much, doesn’t stim much when we’re out and about. He saves it primarily for when he takes long walks outside, back and forth either in front of our house, or in front of Grammy’s. Sometimes, he does it in his room, or from the kitchen to his room. His stimming looks like an uncoordinated gallop with a sound like a voice-cracking “giggle” that could attract some stares from the un-initiated. But I can’t recall seeing him do this at the grocery store or at a restaurant, where others may have cause to stare.
I’ll tell you when they do know. They know about 2 seconds after they ask him a direct question. They know when he bumps into them and keeps right on walking. They know when he walks directly between two people that are together.
Every once in awhile, we come across some old, uppity lady who takes affront, but in general people don’t do much more than notice and go about their own lives. So no, I don’t need a T-shirt. Whatever people may assume, or learn after a brief encounter with us – it doesn’t much matter to me. As long as they are tolerant and kind, the rest doesn’t matter. The tolerance and kindness will not be created by a T-shirt, but through hard work, writing, speaking, spreading the word, creating as many programs for NT kids about acceptance as there are for spectrum kids about how to fit in, volunteering, and sharing, sharing, sharing… That begins with us. Ready?
Frankly, I have stopped trying to make people understand. My goal is to help my son navigate the world on his terms and to help him be comfortable. It isn’t about other people’s comfort – just his. 🙂