The other day I shared Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” I said that was how I felt my 9 year old autistic daughter. April has been #autismawareness month, but I keep reading blogs and Tweets about awareness not going far enough. And it does not. Another incident at the park yesterday illustrates that.
It had been a darn near perfect time. PanKwake had found several people to play tag with…like three or four rounds of it. She had played in the sand…sharing her buckets and shovels too. I looked at her playing with children of a variety of ages even some around her own. I thought…you cannot even tell she is autistic. She seems as normal…and more polite, considerate than most of the other children.
That was it…I jinxed it. Because it all fell to pieces in an instant. We were on the basket swing with other kids. A smaller child in the group wanted a turn. I negotiated with PanKwake…she would push the younger child. But that was not good enough for the adults in this group. They were extremely belligerent and rude, got right in my face demanding,, ’what’s wrong with your child? Why she have to stay on all the time?’
Honestly, I felt threatened as there were two of them…one a man…and half a dozen children. I tried explaining, “Yes, she is special. She is autistic.” The man, who I had seen drinking alcohol earlier, said ‘what that mean?’ I thought…they don’t even know what autism is in this day and age? So I started to explain. Their response floored me… ‘So what? You just treat them normal. We know people who are autistic too.’
It deteriorated from there. Yes, I did my fair share of yelling too. Including calling the man a drunk and telling him a child’s park was no place for alcohol. And no, again, I do not regret it. People that ignorant will NEVER learn but maybe one of the hundreds of other parents, carers, grandparents and children in that park learned…this song….
That is my other autism song…the one I sing to the messed up world that thinks autistic people should be forced to be ‘normal’ or stay home.
This world and IGNORANT people like that will never learn until we do like in that video. As I have taught PanKwake, you first try to explain ‘special’ to the bullies (and sometimes this works…there are good people out there…even if I forget that sometimes). But if that don’t work…you BULLY the bullies. And you play to win…you do not back down…ever.
When all those with ASD and the people who love them decide they are tired of hiding and apologizing to this world…then and only then will things change. Cause…
“We’re not gonna take it. Oh no, we ain’t gonna take it anymore!”