Here’s the scene: I’m out in public with my 2-year-old. He was recently diagnosed with autism, and doesn’t deal well with strangers (or really….anyone) talking to or approaching him. So being out with him in public is usually not a pleasant experience. Nonetheless, I want to get him used the world and to experience all the fun things we can do together. But, per usual, my son starts to scream because he can’t communicate something to me, and that’s when I see it: the judgmental glances and eye rolls.
Yes, I know my kid is screaming.
And yes, I want him to stop. But sometimes it’s out of my control, and it’s hard for me to accept that. It’s been incredibly hard to wrap my head around the needs and challenges of helping my son. Going out in public has become something I dread. And it’s because every time out is always unpredictable, and as a mom who loves a firm routine and pure predictability, this is my nightmare.
Unfortunately, autism often can’t be visibly seen. My son looks like every other two-year-old. But I know that he’s not. And I know I have to ignore the judgmental glares that are thrown my way when my son has a meltdown. The thing is….it’s hard. I want to shout out to the world that my son is struggling and to back off, but I know I can’t. Maybe if I just explained the situation to these strangers, they would understand?
My husband often reminds me to ignore those mean glances, and I know I have to if I want to stay sane. But as mothers, it’s become ingrained in us that our children have to act certain ways in order to reflect that “good mom” persona. We all want to be good moms after all. But just because my kid is screaming doesn’t mean that I’m doing something wrong.
I’m new to all of this. I’m doing my best to try and help my son and have a positive attitude about this difficult transition. Being positive is tricky sometimes. Most days, it’s easier to not leave the house than to deal with those stares. Some days those stares can really drag me down and make me question everything. Every time that happens I have to remind myself: they have no idea what we’re going through.
And that’s been one beautiful thing I’ve gained since becoming an Autism Mom. Empathy. I see the world, and other parents out there so differently now. Everyone is dealing with something, no kids or parents are perfect. And knowing this, helps me rise above the judgment and focus on what’s really important: my son, the feisty, LOUD, and wonderful two-year-old.