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...