Dear Mom Who Called My #Son With #Autism A Delinquent

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A mom (we’ll call “Mom 1”) came running into McDonald’s screaming something like “a big kid is on a little kid in the playplace”. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach…that big kid was probably my 9 year old son, in the playplace with all the other little kids. All parents went running into the playroom to see what was happening. We all saw the little girl who was crying and her mom (we’ll call “Mom 2”) was understandably being protective of her, while all parents were trying to figure out what happened. I just *knew* that my son did something, completely innocently, that scared this little girl, probably trying to hug her but, because he’s big for his age and she was maybe 4 years old, I can totally understand her fear. They were both way up in the top of the playplace, where no one inside the McDonald’s could actually see what was happening. I do not deny that he probably scared her but the situation got out of control VERY quickly.

Both Mom #1 and Mom #2 started yelling at him so I told them to stop, that he has Autism and doesn’t understand the language they were using.

Mom #1 said “Autism? Well then you’re stupid for letting him be in here unattended, and you shouldn’t even let him out of the house. Why are you in public with him?”

I’m sorry…but what??!!

I told her that he’s a child and is allowed outside, plus we haven’t had problems in the almost 10 years we’ve been going to that McDonald’s location. I tried turning my attention to Mom #2 to see if her daughter was ok. Her daughter was scared but physically ok. Mom #2 was understandably angry and upset.

Mom #1 kept yelling obscenities at me and my son. She even started claiming the little girl had peed her pants…which she hadn’t.

I’ll admit that I yelled back at her to stop yelling because it wasn’t helping the situation.

My son was calmly standing beside me, waiting because he clearly didn’t understand what was happening. I took him out of the playplace, got his winter stuff on, had him sit down while I got my stuff on…and Mom #1 started telling other parents how he has Autism so he’s a delinquent; he’s pure violence; he needs to be locked up; etc. I said “Excuse me, but I’m right here, and you’re talking about my CHILD. Stop spreading lies about him and Autism”. She started yelling and telling me how horrible of a parent I am; how dare I bring him out in public; he needs to be thrown away. I’m not proud but I lost it and told her that it was time for her to leave because she wasn’t helping the situation. We left as soon as we collected our things. My daughter was upset for leaving so quickly. My son was oblivious to what had just happened. I was ticked off. The kids’ grandfather was confused and wanting to protect all of us, but also get us home as soon as possible.

On our way out, I was glad to see Mom #2 taking her daughter and the other kids they were with back into the Playplace. That helped me feel better that her daughter was ok.

A few hours later, I’ve had time to calm down and think about the situation, and I’ve decided I would like to thank her…So, kind Mom #1…thank you…

Thank you for making me realize that I still have a redheaded temper (it’s been YEARS since I’ve seen it).

Thank you for bringing out my mama bear.

Thank you for changing the focus from the little girl to you.

Thank you for not allowing me to talk to Mom #2 to ensure her child was ok (I could see the child was ok, but I still wanted to check in, and offer to pay for their meals, etc).

Thank you for escalating the situation to pure emotions so I couldn’t ask you what you actually saw, which would mean I can then teach my son not to do that, thereby stopping it from happening again…because let’s face it, that’s what needs to happen.

Thank you for insulting my son over and over again.

Thank you for bringing my parenting into question (which I just laugh off…my ex husband tried worse after we split)

Thank you for spreading lies about what Autism is and who children with Autism are.

Thank you for motivating me to finally sign up for crisis intervention, basic breakaway and joint locks training, in case I have to protect myself and/or my children in the future, even if that’s to subdue my ever-growing 9yo, who is the size of a 12yo, during meltdown. I’ve been putting off signing up for it, not wanting to face the reality that he’s getting too big for me to physically intervene in a meltdown (which we experienced about a month ago, for the first time in over a year) and, dear Mom #1, if all that over-stimulus had caused a meltdown for him, you aren’t the one who would need to help him through it for hours or days. I am because I’m his mom.

Thank you for making my daughter get upset because she witnessed her mom yelling at another mom for the first time in her life.

Thank you for making me cry out of anger and frustration when I got home.

Thank you for showing me how much more awareness is needed out there because Autism is NOT pure violence, nor does it mean he’s a killer like you were claiming.

So, Mom #1, thank you for being the biggest motivation I’ve had in a few years to continue furthering my education to become a Social Worker to officially help other parents because, sadly, this type of situation happens all the time.

Thank you for making me even stronger.

Meghan

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Guess What? #Autism Parents are Stressed

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Every year for the last 5 years, I fill out a “stress test” so “they” can get quantitative data about how stressed parents of kids with Autism are. This type of quantitative data is how “they” know that we apparently have the same stress level as soldiers coming back from war.

Every year, I get the results and I’ve gone from being in the 82nd percentile the first year to this year being in the 97th percentile of stress…go me! Every year, the assessor presenting me with the results promises to refer me to “additional resources” and every year, very little happens. Two years ago, they connected me with the staff counsellor and she was helpful in letting me know of the Disability Tax Credit which should have been dealt with every year by the accountant doing my taxes (needless to say, I had that fixed!).

Last week, I had an appt today which pleasantly shocked me. The Social Worker I was referred to based on last year’s stress test (late in the year) actually listened to my current and future concerns, my thrills (yes, I told her of cutting my son’s hair!), the roadblocks I experience, and my reservations, she actually took actionable notes AND booked an appt with me to give me all the outcomes she’ll be working on.

She even listened to my To Do lists, for both my son’s Autism diagnosis, and also my daughter’s new Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, which I’ll admit is overwhelming me. I “get” my son’s Autism (as much as I can, not being on the Spectrum myself) because it’s logical. Anxiety Disorder on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish. It’s emotionally-based, and I’m not good with my own emotions let alone be able to figure out someone else’s. I don’t “see” triggers yet that bring her anxiety to the surface. I hope I will one day, but until I do, I just keep learning, and accessing local resources the Social Worker will be putting me in touch with, as well as the ones I’m just waiting for the intake meetings to occur.

I went home and freaked out my man after meeting with the Social Worker because I walked in the door and cried because I was so happy. I actually felt like someone in the system is finally LISTENING and even more important is HELPING me, instead of just saying “well, you should do…” without giving out organization names or contact information. It also felt good to know that the “system” sometimes confuses her too, so she can only imagine what it’s like for parents of kids with Autism as we’re tired, burnt out and just trying to get through the day. So thank you Social Worker! I am truly looking forward to working with you!