Judgement

Two days ago I read a blog post that stopped me in my tracks.  You may have already seen smockity’s post on a rude, impatient, persistent little girl she encountered at her library.  A girl who, based on her description, was likely autistic.

Smockity has since removed the post from her site, but there is a cached version on Emily’s blog if you’re interested.  However, I really don’t recommend reading it.  I wish I hadn’t.

I’d followed the link over to smockity’s blog to see what had inspired such indignation and anger … and felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  The little girl she was making fun of – that could have been my G.  In fact, it has been my G.  G is highly ‘functional’ in that he can speak clearly and can use vocabulary words way above his age level.  Because of the BWS I’ve recently mentioned, he’s large.  This means I have a 6 year old who looks like an 8 year old, sometimes speaks like an 11 year old, but in social situations, acts like a 4 year old.

However, keeping him home doesn’t teach him anything.  So we go out into the world to provide learning experiences.  Where I come in contact with other mothers.  Mothers who don’t understand why G insists on playing tag with their child when the child’s body language clearly says they’re not interested.  Mothers who get irritated with G when he doesn’t let their toddler cut in line for the slide.  Mothers who look at me like I’m an overprotective ‘helicopter mom’ as I closely follow G around the playground, trying to provide the information he needs to interpret and navigate each social situation.

Over time, I’ve grown immune to the looks.  I turn my back on them, tunnel my vision so I only see G.  But to read a first hand account of what they may be thinking, the judgement they’re passing – it really hurt.  Why can’t the other mothers see that G is different, that he doesn’t yet have the skills they expect of him?  Why can’t they see how far he’s come in learning how to socialize with other children?  Why do they write him off as a brat because of my parenting and assume if he were their child they could do any better?  Autism is in the paper everywhere, particularly after the mmr retraction, why doesn’t autism occur to them?  Why can’t they see how hard he’s working just to get by?

I work so hard every day, making sure I don’t miss any teachable moments.  Creating artificial scenarios at home to practice skills.  Thinking years into the future, breaking lessons down into baby steps, always working toward a long term goal of total inclusion.  But reading smockity’s post – it makes me tired.  I read her post two days ago and have been waiting for my righteous indignation and anger to kick in.  But it’s not there.  I’m so tired of struggling to teach G the social skills society requires to be ‘acceptable,’ to make sure he’s not shut out of an experience against his will, only to realize society is coldly unaccepting.

I’ll pick myself up next week and keep fighting for G.  Teaching G what he needs to know to live the happy, fulfilling life of his choosing.  But this week – I’m just tired.

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Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 8:50 am  Comments (9)  

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  1. Wow. Just wow. I finally found the post itself and wanted to cry. I LOVED “Jennifer’s” responses, and wish I could find that woman and thank her profusely.

    What scared me was how many supportive responses I saw at first – it tells me how many parents are judging us every single day in the grocery store, park, library, etc. Then I remembered I used to be that person (before I was a parent) doing the exact same thing. Then I got my cosmic lesson. 🙂

    Hang in there, friend. There are those who will recognize how well G is doing and how hard you are trying. Anyone else isn’t worth your time.

    Let’s just hope Ms. Smockityfrocks or whatever the heck her name is is never so blessed as to have a child like ours. Clearly she can only handle children she is able to “train” to be perfect.

  2. Plus, I just read her little disclaimer she left where she says it’s not fair for her to be judged based on one post…yet it’s fair for her to judge based on five minutes of watching a grandparent/child.

    Ugh.

  3. I see from your blog roll we have some overlapping friends. In addition to Squid’s inventory I’ve been keeping a list of responses and some interesting conversations have developed.

    • Nice to meet you, Liz! Thank you for adding me to your list.

  4. I read it, and I was horrified…especially since she professes to be such a good Christian woman. UGH, what a load of crap. And yeah, if she can judge one child based on 5 minutes in a library, then sure as heck I am going to judge her on “just one post”.

  5. I’m leaving this comment on all the blogs I linked to and which haven’t yet cited it: SmockityFrocks issued a sincere apology today.

    http://www.smockityfrocks.com/2010/03/an-apology.html

  6. Hi, I’ve been reading all the linked posts about the Smockity debacle. The one thing I haven’t seen is, what about when they KNOW your child is autism and still they have nothing but contempt and intolerance for him/her? My son used to blend in very well when he was a toddler, but at school age he stands out so other people can quickly see he’s not “normal”. The reactions I encounter range from wonderful acceptance to people who react as if he had a contagious disease. These are the ones that really hurt. I don’t get really bothered if someone calls my son a brat. But I’m devastated when a child or an adult reject him based on his very autism.

    • I understand that devastation. The refusal to accept my son huts a lot. Or the attitude that even if they are autistic, “they should still know better.” Without understanding that the behavior they expect is years in the making, it can’t just happen overnight.
      My hope is that during incidents like the smockity situation, the train wreck kind where everyone loves to peep in and see the drama, someone will learn something they didn’t know. And the next time that person is in a library next to a ‘bratty’ kid, they’ll remember these blog posts and have a little more compassion.

  7. It is exhausting. I was going to say it gets easier but I think what I really mean is that it changes, definitely less physical.


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