No one wants to get “that look” from the other parents in the room. It is the look that implies that you are a failure as a parent because your child is misbehaving. Parents of kids who have autism want less judgement, and more understanding. What others see as “acting up” could be nothing more than a coping mechanism, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
The other day, I opened up a bottle of tea, and found writing on the inside of the lid. It was one of those “6-Word Memoirs”. This one said: “I have Aspergers. What’s your excuse?” This one hit home for me.
As a sibling to someone who has autism, and as a former teacher of kids who have autism, I can relate. I’ve seen the glares and disapproving looks that come from adults who don’t understand what autism is. I can tell you, first hand, that it is a uniquely uncomfortable experience to be in charge of a child who is “stimming”, or having a meltdown, while other adults stand around and judge what they presume to be my inability to properly care for the child (and to stop the behavior).
A study was done by researchers in England. The researchers asked 20 parents of children who had an autism disorder questions about the biggest challenges that the parents faced in their daily lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 88 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This means there are a lot of families that are affected by autism.
The parents identified the biggest problem that they faced daily was dealing with judgment from other adults. That judgmental attitude was seen by the parents of children who had autism as a bigger problem than dealing with their child’s behavioral issues.
It was also seen as a bigger problem than the financial burden faced by families who have a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. This means it is more stressful to deal with judgmental stares and comments from adults who don’t understand autism than it is to deal with medical bills or loss of income.
Overall, the parents of kids who have autism really want to receive more understanding, and less judgment, from other adults. Instead of making comments about “bad parenting” or “bratty children”, it would be much better if adults would just ask the parent how he or she can offer assistance.
Image by Becky Wetherington on Flickr