This weekend I realized I was being a huge hypocrite. It was pointed out by my wife, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
We were at a ballgame in a noisy gymnasium when I noticed a child screaming and having a meltdown. He had the glassy eyes, was squirming, and covering his ears. I could tell he was physically in pain as the family was working hard to soothe him and make him comfortable.
I, being the diagnosis specialist that I think I am, have this child on the spectrum and start thinking about the things they should be doing to help. [This of course is sarcasm. I am not an expert and have no way to diagnose. I, like most parents of children with autism, just tend to use my experience to notice the signs.] The problem is that I have forgotten where I am, and what it was like to have a young child on the spectrum.
So, I lean over to Jen and say, “Why don’t they take that kid out of here.”
In a confirming voice she said, “You think autism?”
I don’t think I said it loud enough for anyone but her to hear, but when we got back in the car she said, “You should be careful what you say in public.”
This made me stop to think about what I had said and how I had said it. I obviously didn’t mean any disrespect to the parents, however, it may have sounded like I was judging them if you don’t know me. I try really hard not to judge anyone. I know what it was like, and I know that it was, and still is, very difficult to figure out what to do.
What I was trying to say was, “I feel bad for him. He is obviously in agony right now. I wish I could help him. If he were to walk outside where it’s a little quieter and there are less distractions he might calm down.”
In short; I felt sorry for him. I was not saying, “Why don’t they take him outside because he’s bothering me. He’s ruining the game. He’s ruining everything. He’s being a brat.”
If the family that was there at any time felt that was what I meant, I apologize. I just felt bad for the child, and really shouldn’t have said a word. I was just thinking out loud.
Sometimes I have to keep myself in check. These types of situations help to keep me in check as an advocate. I have to make sure that I understand how far we have come, and where we started.
Please, to everyone out there, be careful what you say.