Eyes Averted

After The Boy’s final band concert for the year, I anticipated a meltdown. His TA had asked his friends-who-are-girls to make sure to high-five him before they left, but I knew they wouldn’t. I tried to prepare him for it several days in advance, even getting a promise that he wouldn’t get upset because he knew he would see them the next day. But when he was done, the panic set in, and he wound up, eventually returning to the stage area (where many people remained, clearing the stage), throwing his binder, and then his mouthpiece (a small but heavy hunk of metal).

Everyone around us gasped, and then went about their business in more hushed tones. One kind soul retrieved the now-dented mouthpiece, and I thanked this person without looking at him.

tuba practice

And I realized that I don’t even attempt to make eye contact as any of this goes down. I never do. Am I embarrassed?, I kept asking myself days after the realization. It would be ok if I was, but I generally don’t care what others think of me or my son. I had thought myself way past that stage.

After much soul-searching, I found that it wasn’t embarrassment that made me avert my eyes. No. I just don’t want to deal with everyone else’s reactions. I have enough to deal with, and it isn’t my job to comfort/explain/respond to whatever it is you are feeling upon witnessing my son’s autism in full color. It is my job to relieve his anxieties and calm him.

And if I look into your eyes, I will have to deal with whatever I find there.

I can multitask with the best of them, but not during a meltdown. He is my focus, and everything else is secondary, especially the thoughts of others.

So if you encounter a parent like me who won’t look at you in this situation, they may be embarrassed, or they may just not be ready to deal with you. If you are a parent in a situation like this, you don’t have to worry about anyone but your kiddo. S/he’s the one that needs you most, right then. Even if they are throwing hunks of metal at you.

 

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Eye Contact – Not His, Mine

English: 0I’ve noticed that on bad mornings, or during and after a public meltdown, that I avoid eye contact with pretty much everyone I come into contact with.  Some would say that reaction is a clear indication of embarrassment, I guess, but it isn’t — I’m not at all embarrassed by my son and his autism.  That’s who he is, and it isn’t going to change.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, because we can’t control it, we can only manage it to the best of our ability.  And sometimes that’s not enough to avoid disrupting our lives and those around us.

I think this natural reaction of mine is so that I can avoid reading other people’s emotions about it.  Whether they are anxious, judgmental, sympathetic, or they pity us, I don’t really want to know.  I don’t have time to care about their feelings about the situation.  I have to make sure The Boy is OK, and then keep it together until I can process my own feelings in a private environment, so that I can go about my day and do what needs to get done.  I don’t want to have to deal with them, too.

Maybe that seems harsh, but it’s a method of survival and coping that has developed naturally.  I can’t take care of everybody else.  My son and my owns self are my first priorities.