I get it, a lot…that look…the one quite obviously asking, “Are you really going to let your child behave that way?” Trust me, if I had a choice, it would be anything but. Ah, the joys of parenting an autistic child.
He lacks social grace. Of the eleven goals currently on his IEP, no less than five involve social behavior. We’ve been working on these skills intently for nearly four years. He is better at it than he was four years ago, but he still has many moments I have to give the look back that says, “Yes, I’m completely aware my child is being an a#$ right now.” If it makes other people uncomfortable, which I can see it does, multiply their feelings times a billion and that’s close to where I’ll be on that scale.
Here’s what happens – if you talk down to however old you think he might be based upon his size, you’re lucky to get a rude look. He will usually growl. He definitely won’t respond to you. If he’s not in the mood to talk, or doesn’t deem your question worthy of answering, you might be able to hear his eyeballs rolling to the back of his head, or, again, the growl. Greeting people, ordering food, acknowledging someone has said something to you, saying thank you when someone has given you something or done something nice for you….those are only slowly working their way into “normal routine” for him. Most of the time, he must be reminded. I noticed in his classroom “contract” a line about just saying “thank you” or “thank you, that’s nice, but I don’t really want that right now” when a classmate makes something for him. I assumed there was an incident prompting that line, and I cringed in embarrassment, knowing exactly how that had probably gone down.
I believe he sees words as a commodity. He won’t use them unless it’s necessary. He still communicates, just in his own way. Sometimes I try to explain that to people. Sometimes, I just let it lay. Sometimes when those awkward situations happen, I will bail the person out. Sometimes, we muddle through, and I let them think that yes, I am that awful mother letting her child behave like a total punk while I stand there watching. Sometimes we get a person who’s been around autistic people before, and a light will go on. They get it. And they give me the look of, “It’s okay, mom. We’re good here. I understand.” I like those people.