Eyes of the World

13 Aug

My first article for HerWord.com since I left over a year ago. It feels good to be back home. 🙂

I was doing groceries early yesterday morning, trying to finish everything before the lunch crowd came to the mall. I remember I was in the shampoo and soap aisle, holding on to a nine-pack of pink Safeguard, when I started hearing screams, growls, and wailing. Everyone rushed to where the sounds were coming from. Everyone… but me.

I knew right away what it was. I’ve seen and heard it probably a million times before. The sounds of a meltdown—worse, a meltdown in public—were all too obvious. I took my time with the soap, trying to decide on the scent and color, trivial details, of course. I just didn’t want to be where everyone was and be part of the staring, the ogling, the whispering. I’ve seen those looks before. I knew them all.

When I got back to the cashier check-out counter, I knew I was right. There were people watching, holding their breaths, as if waiting for the next scene in a movie. Many just didn’t know what to do and stared dumbfounded. But a few had the look I hated most—the look of disdain in their faces. You can almost read their thoughts there and then. Of how autism had rudely interrupted their lives and they were annoyed at the momentary distraction. Of how the child was holding up the line, making a scene. And how the parents were pathetic fools who did not know how to control and discipline their child. It’s funny how easy it is to read aversion in the faces of men. Nothing can mask hate.

My husband gave me a lowdown on what had happened. He had been at the checkout line before me when I had run to get the soap. The boy, probably ten years old, had something taken away from him- food, my husband thought—and he was disconsolate at the loss. The boy had his mom and several other adults with him.

“Do they need our help?” I asked my husband.

“No,” he said. “His mom’s a pro. Look at how calm she is. She’s got it under control.”

I smiled and whispered again, “Now, if we can only get all these people to stop staring. I hate it when the same thing happens to us.”

“They just don’t know what autism is. They’re probably curious too, you know,” he said kindly.

I have to admire my husband’s compassion for those who cannot summon the same for children with autism. He’s always been an idealist. I used to be one too, but these days, I think of myself as a realist. A pragmatist. And as much as I continue to hope and pray for a future of acceptance for my son with autism, I have given up holding my breath for it to happen soon.

Once in your lifetime, you will come across a mom or a dad struggling with a child in full meltdown mode. If and when you do, please, please do not stare. If you would like to help, approach the parent and, in a gentle voice, ask if there is anything you can do to help. Many times, that parent will decline your offer of help. We autism parents are often like that. We don’t want to bother anyone else with our problems; we bend over backwards to make accommodations that others will not do for us. Offer it again anyway. If he or she accepts, then help with an open heart. If he or she says no, then stand back and move away, but leave a parting word of encouragement, if you can.

If you must look and keep a watchful eye, do so with this thought in mind: that what looks like a wild, undisciplined child may be a child in pain and his/her parents are doing all they can to help him/her. They need help and understanding, not judgment and scorn.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes the whole world to raise a child with autism. Please stop staring and be part of the world.

15 Responses to “Eyes of the World”

  1. S August 15, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I heart this article.

    • Kittymama August 16, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  2. adicayaban August 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Maybe you should write a book, a compilation of your articles.

    • Kittymama August 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Ahhh, Adi, you are much too kind. 🙂 Thank you for your faith in me. I am working on a children’s book, but the illustrations are not down pat yet. I hope I will be able to finish it soom. 🙂

  3. Whirlwindsparkle August 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Thats so sad!

    • Kittymama August 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Well, it is, but only if we let our biases get in the way of us understanding differently-abled people. I hope that as you grow up and meet different kinds of people in the world, you wil open keep an open mind and an open heart, Whirlwindsparkle. Thank you for dropping by to visit! 🙂

  4. leira pagaspas August 18, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    i can so relate!!! eto yung one of those times na i prefer that people just leave us alone. kasi pag nasa labas kami at maingay si Joshwa its not even a melt down yung excited sya at echolalic sya so medyo malakas na boses nya I can see people looking at us and kulang na lang sabihin maingay masyado. One time yaya and Joshwa were inside an elevator and syempre maingay kasi he wanted something and then this guy suddenly told my yaya can’t you shut him up he’s too noisy (foreigner sya) my yaya said he cannot help it he’s autistic sagot ni yaya. that really shut him up,

    • Kittymama August 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

      We all have our stories, right, Mare? I just hope more people are more receptive to changing their attitudes and perceptions on autism. It’s the only way our children will ever find their place in this world.

  5. josephine vargas August 18, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    pls.i want to post this article on my wall.how?thanx

    • Kittymama August 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Click the title of the post and once the page is loaded, please copy the (link) URL and post it. If it’s to your FB wall, the post will appear underneath the link. Hope it works!

  6. josephine vargas August 18, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    can relate so much,my son is so hyper. at times very noisy.lalo kpg nkkita ng tubig.kht gripong tumutulo lang.or kpg ndaanan namin ang knyang skul.we had him enrolled for 3mos.and stopped this august kasi mahal.

    • Kittymama August 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Naku, my son is like that too! He loves water, so our water bill is very high! He can spend hours with a hose and a batya, if we let him. 🙂 And to think he is 17!

      I know how expensive schools for our children can be, but if you or a relative or a yaya can work with him, even for a few hours a day, he will still be learning. If you need some help making a program for him at home, please send me an email at okasaneko@hellokitty.com.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I feel blessed to know other parents whose journey parallels mine. God bless!

  7. johnet33 August 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m teary eyed reading this, it’s so true.

    • Kittymama August 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Thank you for dropping by my blog. I’m glad you like this post. Only those who live with and work with people with autism will truly understand. 🙂 God bless!

  8. unico ijo mio August 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Thank you.Its really a heartwarming article and i know that its from the innermost corner of your heart.It makes me stronger in my passion to uplift the life of my son who is diagnosed with autism 1 year and 2 months ago.I’ll share your article at fb to help create awareness especially here in the province.

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