(Photo credit – Autism Awareness)
Every year, around this time in the UK, it is the season for charity and special needs awareness, such as breast cancer and Children In Need. So for this post, I would like to take the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with autism, a cause I strongly support.
As mentioned before, I like to make this blog personal. Whatever is on my mind, I write. Don’t care about spellings or grammars. I have never written such a personal post before, but I’m about to. Please bear in mind that I do not mean to offend anyone (if) with this post, nor cause any problem. It is all about my personal reflection and experience with autism. I don’t expect some to understand or agree with me. After all, not everyone would understand autism. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my son and autism. I love my son, and when it comes to him and autism, I wouldn’t change him for the world. I know the past is the past, but sometimes I cannot help but look back at some of the experiences.
One afternoon, I was taking my son home from school. We were catching the tube (train in London for those who don’t know the term). While waiting for the train, my son was sitting down on one of those ‘waiting seats’. Another young boy went straight up to him, up close, face close, like 2 inches apart, and asked my son,
“Why don’t you have front teeth?”
My son didn’t look at him. He started to slowly spit. Mind you, he wasn’t spitting directly in the boy’s face. It was like he was spitting slow bubbles if that makes sense. And by the way, my son doesn’t spit directly AT PEOPLE (not defending my son on this matter. It’s the truth). The reason why he was spitting was because the boy was up close in his face. My son doesn’t like that. It makes him uncomfortable, especially if he’s a total stranger. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother looked at me and rolled her eyes. I told her politely,
“Sorry, please mind my son.”
She smugged and said rudely,
“Huh, well, spitting is just disgusting.” (Her exact words)
I said angrily, and yet calmly,
“Actually, he’s autistic. And the spitting is part of his condition.”
She immediately became shock. She said,
I said again,
“I apologise for the spitting, but he’s autistic, OK?”
She looked nervously around her and ignored me.
I know sometimes with autism, and some other disabilities, people can’t tell if one actually has a disability. The mother had the right to be angry, I’m sure. Spitting is unhygienic and disgusting. But she could have just ‘asked’ if my son could stop spitting rather then give me the attitude.
Those with autism can have eccentric behaviours. That goes for my son. He especially likes to run or sing when he’s really happy. We used to live with our landlord. She knew about my son being autistic and said she was fine with it. One morning, she barged into the kitchen and asked loudly and rudely,
“WHO THE HELL SLAMMED THE DOOR?”
I was confused. It wasn’t me, nor my son. I said,
“I don’t know. Not me.” (It was the truth. No idea who slammed what door)
“You know what. You should control that child of yours. He makes so much noise in the morning. Learn to shut him up.” (Her exact words)
I immediately became angry.
“NO, I cannot shut my son up because he is autistic. He makes those noises because he is happy to go to school.”
“I don’t care what he is. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.”
Hmmmm, what responsibility??????? The fight ended with her storming out the kitchen and not listening to what else I had to say.
Another time my son and I were in a takeaway chicken shop. We were in line. My son started making noises because he was getting impatient. A group of teenagers sitting nearby started making fun of him. I turned to them and said in a normal tone of voice,
“My son is making those noises because he is autistic.”
They ignored me and laughed. I said no more, although I wanted to punch them all in the faces.
My son has even been called a retard or asked,
“When are you going to learn? You don’t know anything. Speak!”
I know parents from my son’s school who pushes their special needs children, who are older looking, in children push chairs. They get ‘funny’ looks when they are out in the public. But it’s ok for grown ups to push another grown up in a push chair, because we would automatically assume they are disabled.
During the Paralympics, especially during the London 2012, many say how inspirational those paralympians were. Many say it’s inspirational because we get to see those with needs, not just those with physical needs, do incredible sports. And amongst the cheering crowds, we see support. No one in the crowd would make fun of the paralympians. No one would shout out ‘RETARD’ to them or make fun if they made funny noises for no reason. No one would look at them differently. Instead, we saw them as heroes and inspirational figures. But outside of the Paralympics, it seems ok to make fun of those who make the same funny noises, or to be looked at differently if someone awkward looking was in a push chair.
I am writing this post to share my thoughts and experiences. I am not looking to start a debate or an argument. I am not saying I am in the right. All I am asking is, for those who don’t understand autism and special needs, then please be patient and understanding. If you see a child, or someone, spitting or behaving differently from others, don’t immediately assume the worse, because sometimes, they are the way they are and not because they want to be naughty or want to cause a scene.
I am so proud to say that my autistic son is already in training to one day represent Team Great Britain swimming in the Paralympics, maybe Japan 2020.
(Photo credit – Facebook (Autism and other ramblings)