Last week, the kiddos and I were at the grocery store and it was not pretty! Sissy was in true form and my son walked away. I wasn’t concerned because he is 13 and no longer has to be glued to my hip. I glanced over toward the front door and he was standing there with this horrid look on his face. I called him over and asked him what was wrong. He said, “Mom, I’m embarrassed. Sissy is acting crazy, people are staring and it’s embarrassing me.” “EXCUSE ME, YOU’RE WHAT?”, I said.
It took everything in my power not to lose my cool. “You know this feeling you’re having right now…that’s how I feel when you act up in public by talking back or not listening. Embarrassed! I’ll show you embarrassed!!!!”, I said in my quiet but firm Mom voice. His response, “yes ma’am.” I got the car loaded up with the groceries and kids and took a minute to calm down. Then it hit me. My son is a teenager! OMG! He’s a TEENAGER! I thought back to when I was 13 and how everything embarrassed me and how another person’s perception of me truly mattered.
When we got home I talked to him about acceptance. Not only is it going to be difficult for his sister, but for us as her family as well. There will be days that we want to stick our heads in the sand, but we can’t! We have to stand strong for his sister and show her and everyone else it is ok for her to be different. It’s ok for her to spin in a circle 50 times in the grocery store. It’s ok for her to laugh uncontrollably for no reason. It’s ok for her to throw herself on the ground and scream like she’s being tortured. Most of the time, passersby don’t even blink an eye. Many times they compliment on how pretty she is and how they wish they had her energy (you and me both). I told him I wish I could change everyone else’s perception of Sissy, but that is unrealistic.
The only way I know to help society’s perception of my daughter…continue to educate those that are wiling to listen and learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Don’t be so quick to judge a child acting out in public. You don’t know the family’s struggle and the last thing a parent needs is someone staring and embarrassing their teenage son.