When you have a child with special needs, you look at the world a bit differently. You understand a lot of negativity, rudeness, abruptness, crying, laziness, and simple bad behavior than you did before…because now you know most of those things aren’t actually those things at all, but rather how you labeled them. (Kind of making us the labeler a bit of a jerk)Because most of those things, have biological reasons behind them, like pain, low blood sugar and numerous neurological and sensory reasons too many to list. And some of them aren’t even issues with the person allegedly doing them, but rather how they are perceived.
Sometimes special needs kids do things that can be perceived as rude, take Halloween for example. They may grab too many candies out of the bowl, or not say trick or treat or even thank you. And it may be your normal reaction to think a child is greedy, rude or shy. But the reality is, they may not have strong fine motor skills and are unable to pick up just one small piece, they may be non-verbal and can’t talk, or they may just not understand the concept of getting something from a complete stranger when so much of what they do has to be earned.
Kids are notorious for misbehaving in the grocery store, they may cry, run around and just seem to be having too much fun. Shopping is an unpleasant experience for some; there are crowds, or even just too many people to the person. There is a lot of noise, bright fluorescent lighting that hurts eyes, there are many rules that are different than home. And most importantly shopping is boring and takes a lot of time, for a kid to survive it, they need things to do, just like you do. But doing this when you feel sick or start to feel sick is not pleasant and eventually a meltdown can occur. This doesn’t make the parents or the kids “bad” it means they are in pain, but if you want to give them a hard time or judge them, well it doesn’t make you a very nice person. Certainly no better of one even if those kids had no biological reason. My son is pretty “good” in stores, but only because I don’t take him in them for hours, never more than 40 minutes, he always has things with him to help him regulate. I have to set my life up for this to happen, and I have been lucky. I can see how someone can plan the same way and just get stuck having to take their child out on a day they know they shouldn’t but no one is there to help them.
One of the biggest things I have learned is that our judgments truly paint a picture of who we are, who we were, who we want to be. So I do my best to make the majority of them positive since I would rather be wrong then be cruel and/or ignorant. There is a good reason for the saying, walk a mile in my shoes. See, because shoes fit us all very uniquely, we break them in to fit our feet and way we walk. And the journey we take in them is all our own. We can rarely ever fully express to anyone that full journey. Even if someone tries to walk another’s walk it, they will never experience it the same.