I try so hard to respect my elders. On two different occasions, I have had to bite my tongue so hard it almost bled when I encountered two ignorant, elder women in public. Here’s the story!
My daughter is autistic and on occasion, she likes to share it with the world in the worst possible way and at the worst time. Of course this happened in two busy businesses (Office Max and Target) during checkout. Now if you have ever tried to control an autistic child during a meltdown, you know my pain. While I’m trying to pay with one hand and control her with the other, these ignorant women tell me in not so many words I need to learn how to control my child. Lord give me strength! I politely said, “First you are no way related to me or my child so you have no right to tell me how to care for her. Second, my daughter is autistic… Not that I have to explain anything to you because you don’t matter to me. But I’m telling you so that maybe you wont be so ignorant next time.” The look of shock and “how dare you” on their faces was priceless. What I said pales in comparison to what I really wanted to say but I was trying to act like a lady and be respectful.
Some of you may have the same thoughts to the scene of a young child thrashing about on the floor screaming like a banshee. But, if you don’t understand what is happening in that moment, you may have the same reaction. Meltdowns are one of the biggest challenges of an autism parent. They are hard to prevent and even harder to respond to. Anger is the number one emotion during a meltdown. Couple that with anxiety and you have a child’s version of road rage. My daughter’s meltdowns occur because she lacks the communication skills to tell me what she wants or needs. She becomes overwhelmed with frustration and boom…there it is. You can’t control it…I basically have to wait until she wears herself out. When I see a child in a store having a tantrum, if I make eye contact with the Mom or Dad, I cover my heart with my hand. Basically telling them, I understand and feel their pain.
So, the next time you see a child having a tantrum in public, have a little patience and understanding. You never know what that family is going through. I surely do!