Sometimes I really want to carry around a big sign with three simple words.
I would sheepishly display one sign during the times when Evan has huge meltdowns and I want everyone around to know that we aren’t bad parents and he is not a bad child. I would want to tell those who are staring at us through judgmental eyes that Evan is not pitching a fit because he didn’t get a cookie (in fact he doesn’t even like cookies or anything sweet) or because he doesn’t want to leave the playground. Most likely he is tantruming because he cannot handle something that the rest of us don’t even notice. Often, it’s something as ordinary as the sound of a few people clapping, the distant roar of a fire truck, a dimming light or the simple sight of a birthday candle. Evan melts down when other kids would not because he has experienced something that for reasons unknown to us send his nervous system into a state of utter chaos. I want the people who are judging us without even knowing us to know that this child is different and we’re doing the best we can. And, more important, he is doing the best he can in a world that is not friendly to his senses.
The other “He has Autism” sign would be my more preferred sign. I would hold it high and proud to announce to the world look at the wonderful things my son, with all his challenges, is capable of doing.
Look, everyone. At the age of five, my son has finally learned to spit his toothpaste into the sink.
Listen, everyone. At the age of almost seven, my son has finally told me he loves me without me saying it first.
Learn, everyone. Learn from this child how to celebrate because the seemingly small stuff of life can be really big.
—Jen Lovy, Beaumont Parenting Program Volunteer
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