Friday, March 20, 2009

Thick Skinned

I've come a long way from that girl who was self-conscious and analyzed every little thing that was said to her...at least when it comes to my children. I don't put up with much anymore.

I've also come a long way in my journey with autism. I think today is a day where I've realized just HOW far I have come. I started this lovely Spring day with a trip to the hair salon. I have been looking forward to it for two weeks! Derek called me on my way to tell me our President was in hot water because he was on the Jay Leno show and referred to his poor bowling score as it being "like the Special Olympics." Honestly, it make me sick to my stomach. I really could not believe it. In this day and time, how could someone, much less our President, make such a hurtful statement? Of course everything coming from his camp is saying he in no way meant to say anything negative about Special Olympics. Ummm, okay???

This made me think about a co-worker that I was very close to when I worked out in the "real world." Every year our company had a campaign that benefited Special Olympics. Part of our sales would go to support the athletes. What a great way to help out! I was proud to be a part of it. I was shocked one day, while in this co-worker's office, and while talking about the campaign she started to act as if she was mentally impaired. I was mortified. I remember stopping her in her tracks! Not happening in MY presence. This was WAY before I even had a thought of becoming a mom, much less being the blessed mom of a special needs child.

I think I have always had a heart for special needs children. I think God has been preparing me from when I was a child. I remember in second or third grade being asked to move my desk near a child that had some sort of special needs. I'm not really sure what it was. He was a twin named Darren. I vividly remember helping him with his work each day. It makes me feel good now when I think about it...that my teacher saw something in my heart at that age where she thought I would be a good helper for him. I'm not bragging of course, just knowing that God was preparing me even back then.

Back to our day...

Our day continued on with a hair cut for Evan. We have only taken Evan to an actual salon twice and I have cut his hair myself ever since. With the encouragement of his Occupational Therapist, we decided it would be a good idea to start getting him used to going to get his hair cut at a salon. Keep in mind that my son with autism has a lot of sensory needs and while clippers have a small buzzing noise to us, they are amplified to him, not to mention the vibrations are as well. Evan did so well going in and sitting in the chair. He let her comb his hair, but when the clippers came on it was World Wrestling Federation! He was SO upset, crying, yelling, "Help!" The whole episode was stressful enough without the old man staring at and calling my son, "a cry baby." Oh yes, this man called my son, who was in obvious distress, "a cry baby." Okay y'all, it took every ounce of my being not to set him straight right then and there. This is when I realized how far I have come. I tried to stand in between his staring and Evan, but he would lean around to make a face at Evan. I didn't say anything to him because I have learned sometimes it is not worth my breath. However, as Ella Grace gets older, I will have to figure out the best way to handle this...to be a good example to her to not get angry, but to show her that it is unacceptable when Evan is not treated with respect. I have, however, on occasion, when being stared at, given the staree a huge smile and the biggest wave so they get the hint without me saying, "You are staring. You are being rude, and I have this situation under control."

I got a call about an hour later from the hair stylist apologizing 100 times for the rude man. She was so sweet and so worried we had our feelings hurt. She said she addressed him when we left. Good for her! I appreciated that. I guess my feelings weren't hurt as much as I was frustrated. I just don't understand WHY someone would say something so rude. I have to believe that this man did not know Evan had autism. It would have been just as bad him taunting a typical child having a meltdown, which happens, too.

I know of another mom who came up with cards no bigger than business cards. They explained her son had autism and what autism was. She would hand them to people who were staring, etc. If I made cards, I would also include in my cards the positive things...the things Evan is good at and how incredibly smart he is.

Maybe I need to adopt these cards and send one to President Obama! :)

If you don't read Renee's blog, go by and read this post. She is an amazing mom. No matter what difference in abilities a child may have, all moms and dads feel the same way about their children with and without special needs. Go read it. It will touch your heart. No coincidence I read it last night. I know it helped me not react hatefully to this man today. I also know for every one inconsiderate person, there are countless others who love and support Evan and us. That's what matters to me.

Now, on to what's really important today, the hair cut...


Tell me, how cute it he with his little hair cut and evidence of a spaghetti dinner thoroughly enjoyed???

27 comments:

roberts05 said...

I have read your blog for awhile, but never commented. I used to work as a 1-on-1 aide for a child with autism. (from age 5-8) I remember how awful an experience a haircut was. My cousin actually came to their house to cut it and we would have a video playing to try and distract. We also tried a place called Cookie Cutters http://www.haircutsarefun.com/
where they have fun seats like firetrucks or tractors to sit in. I'm sure you've tried many things to make it easier for everyone involved. It takes a very special person to have the grace that you did while dealing with that situation. I was always so defensive and protective of my little one, I couldn't imagine being a mom having to deal with it. I do have 2 boys of my own and hope to instill the right values in them to be caring and considerate to everyone they encounter.

Megan said...

Yeah, Obama made a big mistake last night. I am appalled as well.
Guess what? We're taking our students to a special olympics meet on April 23. The kids are so excited.

Heather said...

Leigh Ann- I just love you and your sweet heart!!! I would love to say I would have "shown restraint" with the mean man, but I'm not sure I would have. Connor-boo has some sensory issues, too, and it makes me SO MAD when people say ignorant things or take things for granted. Each haircut is a wrestling match for us, too!! (And we don't even attempt the clippers at this point!! ha!)
Being a mom is so hard sometimes...you want to defend and protect your kids and also set a good example for them at the same time. I pray for you and Evan every day and ask God for a cure for autism....but I also pray and know that each day without one, He will give you the strength and grace you need, just like He did today.
When I met Evan, I was so impressed with how joyful he was and what a sweet boy he was! I definitely would have never known he had autism if I didn't already know it! God has big plans for you and your family...I just know it! Thanks so much for sharing your heart on here so we can all be encouraged!
Love ya! (and so sorry for the long comment!)

Laurie said...

Thanks for posting this. You are such a wonderful mother!

Jen said...

I found your blog through Kelly's Korner blog. I work at a pediatric therapy group for special needs kids. I see lots of parents every day that are strong and doing the best for their children just like you are. Here's a big "Way to go!" just for you. It's challenging being a mom to a typical child, muchless one with special needs. You're doing a great job!! I enjoy reading your blog. You're a huge inspiration to a lot of people I'm sure. God bless!

Audrey said...

Leigh Ann,

What a beautiful, beautiful post. I was so deeply disappointed in our president when I heard his remarks. In middle school I worked with the children of our school with special needs. And we took them to the Special Olympics, it was something I'll always remember. How proud and excited they were to earn their medals and compete. I've worked with people with special needs in my early adulthood as well and I have never met more amazing people in my life. I've also stopped people making fun of the mentally impaired, it is in the worst taste in my opinion! I guess this long rambling post is just meant to say how wonderful of a mother you are and how handsome and amazing your Evan is!

Jenna said...

Leigh Ann, thank you so much for sharing this. I hope to be as amazing a mother as you are one day! Evan is SO blessed to have you as his mama! Praying for your sweet family!!! :-)

ShortOne said...

Great pic of my favorite boy - love the haircut!

You already know I think you are the best mom ever! It's so hard to keep those momma bear claws from coming out - good job to you! You never cease to amaze me with your never ending strength & power, I know EG will learn how to take care of these situations with the same grace you do - she has the best example in front of her!

Kayce said...

Poor thing, that makes me mad just to think about. I'm proud of you for maintaining your class and ignoring that OBVIOUSLY ignorant old man. Some people are so obnoxious, I swear! Oh, and Evan looks adorable with his haircut!

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

This was a great post! I have been trying to decide if I want to post about Obama. Part of me feels like it's not worth the blog space. One of your commentors said "we all make mistakes"... that's true, but as our President, he is held to a higher standard. If it were a racial slur there would be a whole lot more people freaking out right now. So frustrating.

Anyway, Kameron (who has PDD) used to freak out about hair cuts too. It was AWFUL. I can't imagine if someone had called him a cry baby. I don't know if I would have shown the same restraint you did. I admire you for that. The cards are a GREAT idea, and like you said, include the positive info too!

A word of encouragement? Kameron does MUCH better with haircuts now. Hopefully Evan will get there too... in his time. :)

Love you!

Kelly said...

LAH - you are an amazing person AND mother. God knew exactly what He was doing by making you Evan's mom. Your strength is an inspiration to me and others. Every child should be as lucky. God has special plans for Evan. And his haircut is adorable! He looks s grown up!

Marci @ All Things Wonderful said...

What a wonderful post...Your love and grace shines through your words. How hurtful it must to see such rude people like that man in the salon--especially when it is your child. I don't know if I could have been so graceful. You are a wonderful example!

Angela said...

That was wrong of the guy to say to ANY kid. You are a great mommy! His hair is so cute!

Betsy said...

Bless ya'll's hearts. That sounds like a stressful day. I can't believe people would be so rude, either!

I know God hand-picked you to be Evan's mom because you have such a sweet and understanding and loving heart. Unfortunately, the world needs more people like you.

I'm sorry that happened, but Evan's haircut looks precious.

Becky said...

Leigh Ann, I don't even know what to say after reading this post...other than you are really one "super mom"! I'm not so sure I could have restrained myself. Where is the compassion in today's society! I'm sure after the stylist comfronted the man he felt really bad, but still...people should think before they react.

Anyhoo, Evan looks precious with his new haircut. Wish him a BIG Happy Birthday from me.

Jacquie said...

I'm so sorry, you and Evan had to go through that! I can't even imagine a professional talking to a child (who is a client) that way. A momma's instinct is to protect... and I applaud you for doing that under control. You are a wonderful mother. Evan (and his little spaghetti face) is so blessed to have you in his corner!!

Meagan said...

Hey love! I am so proud of you and so proud of Evan for getting his hair cut in the salon through the stress and anxiety! Bless his heart! I don't know if I would have handled myself as well as you did when faced with that rude man! You're an amazing woman, LAH! Love you!!

Rachel said...

LAH, I'm so proud of both of you, cause I would have totally went OFF on that dude...O-F-F!! I would have forgot my children were there and gone upside and down another. I'm like a mama bear when you start messing with my cubs. Poor Evan, they can totally do just a scissor cut, and just use the small trimmers around the ears and back of the neck, that's what I do with my Evan...he hates the big clippers. But I understand the need to get him used to it. I'm proud of you and Evan looks very handsome.

His Doorkeeper said...

Great post Leigh Ann! I did Special Olympic coaching for years when I was teaching. I was horrified at what Obama said and I sure alot of other people were too.

I'm sure the man at the shop didn't know about Evan but he shouldn't have said that about any child for that matter. But those people are out there and you did the right thing! Always take the high road and you'll never be sorry but ignorance is lurking constantly!

Evan looks so handsome with his haircut!! And you are an awesome mother to him!

Lauren said...

LAH, I couldn't help but cry reading this. I'm so thankful that Evan wasn't aware of or won't remember that heartless man saying that.

I know that I would have not been able to hold my tongue. I can't imagine what it took inside for you to. You are being a great example for all of us.

And you're right-"President" Obama needs to get a FedEx box full of those cards.

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

You have an award waiting for you on my blog! :)

Faith said...

Leigh Ann, you are an amazing momma to your precious boy. He is so blessed to have you standing up for him!

Abby said...

Leigh Ann - You KNOW how handsome I think Evan is! I think my usual adjective is "dreamy." Also, I just want to apologize if I have ever said anything hurtful or if I have ever NOT said anything when I needed to, ya know what I mean? This RA diagnosis has taught me a few lessons in that department. Just know that I think you are an amazing mom and Evan and EG are so lucky to have you and Derek as their mommy and daddy!

Megan L Hutchings said...

Sweet LAH ~ I DO think that God was preparing your heart at a very young age. You are an amazing mother and I know that so many of us do not even know half of what your family and Evan have overcome. I am so sorry that you had that encounter with that rude man, but I am also proud of the hairstylist for standing up to him. Some people are scared of what they don't know.

Please give your adorable son a big hug from me ;)!

Juls said...

I know that was hard to show such restraint, but you did the right thing....people just SUCK sometimes. I love your blog, and think your child are adoralbe!! Keep up the good work, your an insperation!!

Julie

Traci said...

Oh, Leigh Ann. This story hit so close to home. The only thing different was you handled it with class and restraint. I admire you because you channeled Jesus and actually thought about being an example for EG.

Evan is handsome and beautiful! God prepared you well to be his Mom and you listened to Him and did the best job you could. You are a wonderful mother to both of your kids!

Kim said...

Did you mean Hudson or, maybe, Lawson??? Girl! YOU are telling my story!!! It is pure HELL on Haircut days! No matter how much prepping we do . . . . and we have done it monthly for years now! Do you know how much I tip my hairdresser?? We go when the shop is closed - that is how bad it is. AND I don't want to have to smack some fool staring or making ridiculous gestures!! Because people like that will never get it, no matter how you explain it!!