Being the parent of a child with autism is a very humbling experience. All those parents you used to look at and think of as bad parents because their child is throwing a fit in the middle of Target? Yeah, you feel like you need to find each and every one of them and apologize. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the last two years is that things are not always as they appear on the surface. You don’t know what you don’t know. Sure, some of those parents of those children throwing those tantrums may just be bad parents. But you can’t take it for granted. Their child may be on the spectrum, or have some other issue. I’ve begun to just say a little prayer for that mom or dad in that moment. It’s much easier than being judgmental.
We have been the subject of those stares and head shakes more times than I can count. Sometimes, I wanted to scream and cry. Other times, I wanted to pathetically explain why my child was behaving in such a manner. And then there are the times I just want to punch that judgmental moron in the face and ask how dare they? I’ve been known to say I want a sign to hold up in those situations that says “I’m not a bad parent, he’s autistic.” But then there are some people who just don’t deserve an explanation. Sorry if that sounds angry. My momma bear comes out when it comes to my babies.
I’ve developed the “there’s nothing to see here” stare. Try it. It usually works. I’ve learned that if I remain calm and matter-of-fact, most people will realize I have the situation in hand, and no, I am not just a bad parent.