Two years ago it was 1 in 88.
That is, the number of children, diagnosed as ‘on the spectrum.’
Those people with autism or autistic people (depending on their preference) will soon be all around you.
Wherever you go.
This is why stories like yesterday are important.
This is why that mother is NOT suing United Airlines for money, she is suing to provide training. I’m not exactly sure how all of that would/will work…but it’s the truth.
Doctor Offices? Prepare.
Dentist Offices? Prepare.
Retail Stores? Prepare.
Shopping Malls? Prepare.
This message is for you…people in hospitals, restaurants, medical offices, retail stores, shopping malls, churches. This message is for all people who fail to understand the scope of the spectrum. Soon there will be a whole slough of spectrum folks heading your way…oh wait, they are already there. You may just not have known.
Because Tucker (like most children with autism) doesn’t look like there is anything ‘wrong’ with him. Weird, I know.
Now, did Juliette’s mother handle this situation is the best way possible? I don’t know. I know I’ve been so terrified of an oncoming meltdown that I would have done anything to prevent it and you would too.
I also hope I wouldn’t have made any threatening comments (scratching) and I would have simply pleaded my case by providing an explanation of why. But you know what? Sometimes explaining why just gets tiring.
Why does you kid lean on you during church?
Why does you kid still hold your hand?
Why won’t your kid look at me when he talks?
Why does your kid talk loud when it’s quiet?
Why doesn’t you kid know when to stop talking about the Vikings?
Why does your kid ask so many questions?
Why does you kid wear shorts in the middle of winter?
Why does your kid always have an iPad?
Why does your kid stand up in back during Estelle’s concerts?
Why does your kid leave things early?
See what I mean? Sometimes…right or wrong – we just get tired of answering questions. We get tired of battling. We just…get tired.
Why does it make a difference to YOU that he leans on me in church and holds my hand?
If you are tired of him not looking at you, talking about the Vikings, or asking so many questions then simply stop talking to him.
How does if affect you if he wears shorts or has an iPad?
Trust me the ‘special treatments’ that Tucker receives pale in comparison to the struggles he faces on a daily basis.
Oh, you want your child to be able to walk around the hallway for some cool down time? Okay. Let’s make a trade then. How about you also explain the entire concept of Special Education to your child while making them not feel ‘dumb, different, or the ‘r’ word.
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Does the threat or reality of a melt-down make you feel uncomfortable? Oh, sorry about that. You think these moments are inappropriate and we should be shuttled to a back room?
Okay…maybe it’s your turn to feel unwelcome.
Maybe today is the day that you can’t travel because it’s not in the schedule.
Maybe today is the day that you leave the restaurant when dinner arrives because he’s facing sensory overload.
Maybe today is the day that you get the phone call from the school that there was, yet another, incident.
Maybe today is the day that he screams bloody murder because the seam on his sock is bunchy and he’s too freaked out to even get his shoe off to fix it himself.
Maybe today is the day that you look at your child and really wonder about their future. Will they really be able to live alone? Move out? Find a partner? Be loved? Because that’s SUPER fun.
Here is the deal…this is OUR reality. All of us. The rates are increasing and you are going to run into kids like Tucker. You think you’re just a dental hygienist or a waitress; a flight attendant or a volunteer little league coach. Are you prepared?
That is just one of the reasons I will not stop advocating. It’s the reason I will never hide who we are. It’s the reason I will wear my “Supermom Autism” shirt whenever and wherever I can.
Get used to it.
Soon enough someone you love will need compassion and empathy from a stranger.
Soon enough you will understand how the lack of compassion and empathy is just another piece of salt in a gaping wound.
Soon enough someone you love will enter the spectrum world.
Soon enough you will read this blog and whisper to yourself…with a tear in your eye, “I get it now.”