Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Lookie Lou's

I was just thinking about how it is to be out in public with my guy. People look when he makes noises instead of saying words - or starting jumping up and down for no apparent reason. They look at me like I'm the most stupid incompetent parent even placed on the earth when he breaks down and tantrums - throws things or hits me in pubic. The looks, I have them memorized.

People really do look at me like "lady can't you control you kid". I thought about this because we were at the zoo today and things went find, it was Halloween and people were in the best of spirits. No so, a few years ago when I went on a regular day and Nicky decided he did not want to leave the animal nursery. So, in true Nicky fashion he threw himself to the ground and refused to get up for more than 30 minutes. When I would approach him or try to talk to him or pull him up, he screamed louder, pinched and hit me, tried to hit his head on the cement and kicked his feet. People walked by and just stared at me. They gave me the "Wow what a bad mom you are" look. Some just kept walking while others actually stopped and stared. I remember one lady who actually said "if I would spank my kids I wouldn't have this problem" - I remember saying "Thank you", just trying to be polite because I didn't know what else to do.

At one time I carried cards the size of business cards in my wallet that described the disability and what was happening. The idea was that you could just hand these to folks who stopped and stared - instead of enduring the looks and comments. I never handed any out I was always too busy trying to calm my kid, but I like the idea.

I have also had good experiences. Once I went into my bank - Nicky was frustrated and not able to stay calm - Nicky had a water bottle. As we stepped in the door he threw the bottle and then threw himself to the ground while yelling and screaming. I could tell that some of the people thought he had hurt himself, while others did not have a clue. I had thrown my purse and my papers to the floor and was just holding tightly trying to get him to calm down. After about 4 minutes he was calmer and a lady approached me. I thought to myself "Donna be calm, you can take it, what's one more slice of judgment pie". But I was so wrong she looked at me with this amazed look and said "You are fantastic" I know what he has, my son has it and you handled that perfectly I am so impressed, it gives me hope". It took me a few seconds to take in that I had gotten a compliment...and when I got it I looked up and tears came out of my eyes. I thanked her and told her she was the first person to ever say that.

Since then I have been blessed with many many more people who have known what was going on, knew what autism looked like, approaching me to acknowledge how I work with my son and it has made it so much easier to brush off the Lookie Lou's.

It's easy to forgive, because in my case I know I was a judgmental lookie lou too before Nicky.

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