I’m sure your mama taught you to never judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like the rest of the world just didn’t learn that lesson. I’m no newbie to judgment. I was a teen mom and I have four children, so judgment just comes with the territory. That said, I have never been judged more harshly than I have been as an autism mama. It can be hard to deal with all the judgment when you’re holding on by a string and doing everything that you can to be the best mom possible.
This post is a part of the Autism A-Z series for Autism Acceptance Month. Be sure to check out this post to see the rest of the posts in the series! I’m also still hosting my Fundanoodle Fundraiser for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, so you can shop here and 10% of the sale will be donated to the ASAN. Now back to our post, dealing with judgments about autism.
Dealing With Judgments About Autism
You Don’t Make Him..
This is probably the most difficult judgment that I’ve had to face as an autism mama. When we initially brought up concerns about A-Man’s development with his pediatrician, she blamed my parenting. She told us that if we made him eat, he would eat and if we made him talk he would talk. She also blamed my divorce for his sudden regression in skills.
We had to fight for our son to get a diagnosis. Beyond that pediatrician, I’ve had friends, family, and perfect strangers judge me for not forcing my son to do things that he’s unable or unwilling to do. To deal with this judgment, I talk with specialists who understand my son’s autism. They help to remind me that he is not defiant, and I am doing the right thing for him by parenting gently.
Screaming in the Grocery Store
A part of autism that’s just an unfortunate reality are the sensory meltdowns. Grocery stores can be triggers for many autistic kids because of the many different sights, sounds, lights, smells and people. Often parents of autistic kids avoid anything that might trigger a meltdown, but our family needs to eat just like everyone else’s. I am often the mom with screaming kids in the grocery store when A-Man gets overstimulated and overwhelmed.
When I get angry and judgmental looks, I try to remind myself of childless me. Childless me would get frustrated with screaming children. Childless me would think to herself, “why can’t they just go sit in the car until that kid’s fit is over?” Childless me had no idea about autism or meltdowns, and many of those people giving dirty looks at the grocery store have no idea either.
You’re Too Sensitive
This one makes me a little batty. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m sensitive for my disabled children. I don’t tolerate them being bullied or taken advantage of, and I don’t allow people to treat them different than my typical children. Some people believe that this is me being to “sensitive”.
This judgment hurts. Mainly because I wouldn’t have to be so sensitive if the world had a little sensitivity. I wouldn’t have to fight for inclusion if it was common practice. To help with this one, I connect with other autism mamas. I also try to remember that the world sets us up to go to battle for our children, and then judges us for battling. This one just isn’t our fault.
Everyone is Autistic These Days
When I share with someone that my son is autistic, this is always a response that I get. “Oh everyone is autistic these days“. Okay, really. There are more recognized cases of autism these days, but that does not mean that “everyone” is autistic. There is more awareness of autism in the general public, so parents are noticing more signs.
In years past they either labeled autistic kids as just bad or they locked them away in homes. Everyone is not autistic. We are not trying to “find an excuse for our bad kids”. We are seeking answers and support for our children who need them.
It can be hard to know that the world is judging you, but try to remember that you’re doing everything that you possibly can for your children. Those people who judge may be going through battles we will never know, and they may just simply not understand. Try to educate, rather than get angry. It’s difficult, but so, so worth it.
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