It seems wrong, like a bit of a betrayal, to tell strangers that your kid has Autism, even after he says or does something noticeably strange. So I don’t always mention it, but sometimes the situation warrants.
Here’s what I’ve learned: once the light goes off in people’s heads, they’re usually super nice. And here they were thinking you actually raise your son to yell “PENIS!” on the playground. I can tell you that kids tend to scatter after that verbal bomb!
Besides correcting that huge injustice to your parental honor, I believe that it helps everyone when we give more faces to Autism. Being an invisible spectrum disorder with a huge range of abilities and challenges, Autism can be hard for the layman to identify, and often sadly masquerades as a straight case of crappy parenting.
So helping someone correctly classify Autism today might help them be more understanding the next time they encounter it. And it is in this way that we can change the world into a kinder and gentler place for our kiddos tomorrow. Group hug!
On the other hand, I totally support you if you’re feeling like leaving the Autism advocate business to someone else today. We have all gotten the stinkeye at the grocery store, and endured the whispered barbs. And that’s just with the family. (Joking!)
These are the days that our Autism shirt was tailor-made for- you don’t even have to say a word. You just have to let someone stare at your chest for a bit, until the word Autism emerges and politely knocks at their brain’s door. That sounded weirder than I intended.
Stinkeye stings, every time. And on occasion, you might want to go all Honeymooners on them and “pow, right in the kisser!” But I have learned this- if you argue with an idiot, you will lose every time. (Don't ask me how I know this.) Rising above is better, but substantially harder.
But promise me this: if self control abandons you, and you hatch a great comeback line, email it to me so we can share a good laugh. I'll be there for you!
This past Halloween, we were manning the home front when some boys rang the bell. Roman answered the door with me, and while I was offering our candy bowl to a 10-year old Captain Jack Sparrow, Roman reached right into his bountiful treat bag to fish out some of his candy. So I apologized to the boy: “I’m sorry, that was awkward! Roman has Autism.” To which the pirate promptly and totally matter-of-factly replied: “It’s ok, I have OCD.” Which absolutely made my night.
PS "Dark" Vader trying out his light sabers before Halloween. Dark does not like to trick or treat. He walks in our local parade, mostly no longer wearing essential bits of his costume. This year it was the helmet, the light saber, then the mask that got ditched first.
Last year, he was a wood chopper that Jeff had nicknamed "Black Jack Shellac" - he wouldn't wear his crochet beard for sensory reasons, but did carry his cardboard ax for the entire parade, oddly enough - prompting a neighbor to ask if he was disguised as an urban ax murderer.
PSS We ARE changing our name, after all. Kid Gigawatt it is. Woot woot!