The picture of innocence. Not yet 5. Not yet speaking. Not understanding much of what others say or do. Happy, flapping, chest beating, walking up and down in lines in the pouring rain, red jumper wearing, up all night if you let him, lovable boy.
Blisfully unaware of what others think of him. Or say about him.
O, Thank you God!
Because the world is cruel to him at times. Difference is not yet understood or accepted.
I had a little glimpse of that last week watching Isaac running in and out of automatic doors at a museum. But that was tame behaviour. Compared to yesterday that is. Actually compared to a lot of days really. It’s hard to talk about the screaming, and the biting, and the fighting against you. The public tantrums and refusals, the head banging, the kicking and punching and the hair pulling. The ‘challenging behaviour’ that so often comes as part of the package with autism. The inability to sit at a table when you need him to, the embarrassment of touching things he shouldn’t, the high pitch scream that could empty an entire shopping centre.
Believe me, I know these things are hard to see. They are hard for me to see too.
But do you really have to add to my heartache, my embarrassment and my upset by saying something horrible?
Like ‘children like that should not be taken out where others have to see them’?
Did you really have to say that?
Do I really need to hear things like that?
I’ve also had:
‘Sometimes a good smack is all they need’
‘He’ll soon grow out of it’
‘Maybe you should read to him and he might learn to talk’
‘It’s good he goes to school so far away then you can just forget about him and no-one needs to see him’
‘That’s good his playground at school is an inner coutyard. I mean people walking past would not want to see him licking the fence or making silly noises or the like. Other kids might think that is ok.’
‘They can test for things like Down’s and stuff now. Did you not get that test?’
‘Think about it this way. You get extra money and a car now so that’s good.’
‘You shouldn’t be allowed to park in a disabled space when it’s for a child’
‘The disabled seats are not for kids you know!’
‘They never had such a thing as autism in my day. You just had to teach your kids back then’
I could go on. But you don’t need to hear them. Neither do I.
My beautiful boy is a treasure. He takes a tin of baked beans to bed to hold at night. He gets such delight watching drops of rain falling down a window. He gets excited about going out in the rain. He can spend hours simply pouring coins from one cup to another one. He is thankful for the food on his plate…so thankful in fact he will even try eating the plate! He can hand me a photo of an ice lolly when he wants one. He thinks nothing of watching TV with a swimming ring around his neck:
He is a real child. Someone’s child. My child. He is loved. He is treasured. He is stunning. He is different. But he isn’t less.
Words are so powerful. Isaac may not know what people are saying but I do. You are breaking my heart when you say things like this. You are breaking his dad’s heart. And his sister’s heart. And you are breaking God’s heart.
“See to it that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that thier angels in heaven always see the face of my father in hevaen.” Matthew 18:10
Did you really have to say that?