I wanted to scream, I really did as I was stood with Tom at the bus station waiting for our bus home. He would not stand so I had to carry him and while doing so he would occasionally throw himself on the floor and then ask to be picked back up. Together with this he was head rolling and making his repetitive sounds that he likes to make. All of this is normal to me and as he had only just recovered from a meltdown that happened in the car shop cafe, more in a bit, both he and I were coping well. However what did not help was the 'stares ', I don't just mean a curious look, that's ok, I would look too, but the woman stood in front of us kept turning round to glare at him, looked me up and down and then turned back round. She did several times with no hint of a smile or a look of compassion. I suppose this wouldn't normally bother me but what she didn't know was that Tom had just had an autistic meltdown while at the café.
The short story is that there were no sofas for him to sit on when we got there, he always has to sit on the sofas, and although two lovely ladies vacated one couch to allow him to sit, he had to sit facing them and this I think triggered his ‘fight or flight’ response and his challenging behaviour, they were however very understanding and showed real concern about Tom when he was telling them to ‘go now, you go now ladies’. They were doing their best to help me. In the end though after he had made a failed attempt to exit down the stairs, his very much ‘flight response’ which was thwarted by a lovely friend of mine, who I was so happy to see there, I strapped him back into the trolley and off we went leaving my coffee behind. This experience although hugely upsetting for Tom and myself I have to say that I did feel supported and did not get judgemental looks, most people there looked concerned. This was fine, I too would look. Thank goodness for those kind ladies and my friend. It was a huge relief to see a friendly face there and although she believes that she didn't really help, believe me she did. Just knowing that someone else knows what you are going through is hugely helpful.
So as I said, although this was a horribly unpleasant experience I did not feel judged but supported. This was in total opposition to waiting for the bus. That was my child they were stating at,
I suppose the point that I am making is that as a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, or with any additional needs for that matter, all we want when our child is finding social situations difficult is not to be judged. You have no idea what we go through on a daily basis and why that child might be behaving the way that they do. Look by all means, and perhaps ask, ‘can I help at all, are you ok?’ I would be more than happy if someone did this.
To the people out there who understand and showed me support and kindness today I thank you. There are some genuinely caring people out there and we should never forget that.
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