As I glanced thru my Facebook the past few days, there have been so many posts about families being either yelled at and or criticized because of their child’s behavior.
I have been on this journey of Autism for almost 20 years. Of course the final diagnosis did not come until about 7 years ago.
When Jonathan was a baby he was just fine did not show any signs that there was something not right. His speech was a little lacking giving no thought that there’s something wrong. As I sit and think back it was at his 3rd birthday party when singing happy birthday he started to scream and cover his ears….did not have any clue that it was a sensory overload for him. He would go to the grocery store with me and would disappear…..I would be panicking only find him hiding inside the bins holding the produce in Albertson’s or having the Winn Dixie managers chasing him down into the Blockbuster store at the end of the plaza. Now before you judge me this was before we knew there was something seriously wrong. Jonathan would be scolded just like any other child and given the punishment that was felt appropriate for his actions.
It was days after one of the 3 hurricanes of 2004 had passed when my mother asked if I would like to go to breakfast with her at a family diner in town. At the time it was just me, Sara and Jonathan. Daddy was working. So as we entered into this establishment, Jonathan seemed to be just a little shy and hid under the table. We placed our order and then it happened. He had his first meltdown. At this time I had never heard of a meltdown or sensory overload. He started to cry uncontrollably and progressively got worse. I did everything in my power to console him and make him feel safe and secure. Grandma even tried to get him to calm down. But to no avail and frustration was beginning to sit in when the owner of the establishment stared into my face and yelled “COME ON NOW”…..I had never felt so embarrassed. I just picked up my children and said “I am done and will not be back to this establishment again.” Now this is suppose to be a family restaurant….key word is suppose. And til this day I have not been back in that establishment. Jonathan spent the first 2 days of pre-K serving in school suspension. He would cry and just lay down on the ground not want to do anything. He wanted to stay with me. It was not until the last parent teacher conference of the school when we were told he did not know his colors …I was flabbergasted when I told Jonathan show me the blue plate he pointed right to it. The teacher was astounded and said he does not do that in class and she recommended that I take him to the pediatrician as soon as possible. That’s when it all started to come together.
Since then we found out that Jonathan has several diagnoisis…selective mutism, anxiety disorder,mood disorder, attention deficit disorder. He has also been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism. The definition of Autism (as defined by Merriam Webster): a condition or disorder that begins in childhood and that causes problems in forming relationships and in communicating with other people.
It has been a very long and hard road for us all. Especially having more than one child with special needs. Those families with special needs children have so much more to deal with than “normal” families. I guess that’s why these families are more patient and understanding than most. That’s because they get it. They have been there and want to make someone else’s journey less difficult. I just don’t understand why people are so quick to judge others as they have not walked a mile in these people’s shoes.
In 2013 the country superstar band Sawyer Brown came out with a song that fits these situations perfectly. It’s called “They Don’t Understand”.
Please take a moment to listen to this song and share it. Maybe if we get this out there more people will take a second to think about what’s going on before letting their mouth override their brain. I mean we are all humans and everyone deserves to go into public places with “ALL” of their family members without being judged or discriminated against. We are humans and have the same emotions as everyone else.