“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk at age three. This caused me to throw many a tantrum. I could understand what people said to me, but I could not get my words out. It was like a big stutter. I remember thinking logically to myself that I would have to scream because I had no other way to communicate.”
—Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures
I can relate to this statement…as I am sure many parents can. One minute, my boy is pleasant, having fun, maybe even laughing and then…something, anything can throw him into a meltdown. He is frustrated, so am I, but more so, I am sad because I don’t know what he wants, needs, or fears and sad because he just can’t find the words to tell me.
April is Autism Awareness Month, but I ask for whom? Families affected by autism, awareness is everyday…24-7, 365! Do people not affected by autism really even care?
I was not only angered but truly sad about an incident, I personally witnessed yesterday.
After picking my son up from school, I stopped at a convenience store in Macungie to get a drink and witnessed, yet another, case of purely ignorance!
A father and his son were getting a fountain drink. The boy wanted a certain cup, but was unable to reach it, so the father tried to help. With this, the child had a meltdown; he started jumping up and down, flapping his arms and screaming NO! to his father over and over again.
I didn’t think much of it…hey, that is my son to a T!
The father seemed embarrassed, trying to calm his child while getting the drink in the cup his son wanted. I felt pure compassion for him…I know what it feels like.
A woman, holding a candy bar in her hand, waiting to get her own drink turned to me rolling her eyes and shaking her head in disapproval and stated “children like that should not be out in public!”
I could feel the heat from my anger just roll through by veins! I wanted to scream at her in the worst way, but instead, in a very calm but stern voice asked her if she uses the internet. Once she replied, yes, I told her she should check out a great website…Autism Speaks while she enjoys her candy bar and keep her ignorant comments to herself.
With a “huh” she got out of the drink line, went to the front of the store to purchase her candy bar and was on her way.
I couldn’t help but smile…the father felt the same way as he smiled back and thanked me. I told him no thanks was necessary…I UNDERSTOOD!
This is just one incident that I personally viewed, yesterday. Incidents such as these happen too many times.
You think this behavior comes only from strangers? WRONG!
A parent told me of similar incidents within her own family on a regular basis! So very sad!
Unfortunately, the sad truth seems to be, if autism doesn’t directly affect someone personally, then they don’t care or care to learn about autism!
This truly angers me! It seems like the only understanding comes from our autism community.
I just purchased “I HAVE AUTISM” cards by Taylor Crowe, a 28 year old man with autism. I plan to write a few of my favorite Autism Resource websites on the back and hand them out…to raise awareness and TRY to stop ignorance!
While, I know I can not change the world, if I can change just one person’s attitude about autism, then I will feel successful!