Autism is isolating. Not just for those that have it, but for their loved ones. It’s not always obvious or deliberate, it’s just there. People get tired of hearing excuses why you’re not available or why your child acts a certain way. Many try to be patient, but it’s a long haul.
The most subtle one I’ve noticed is being excluded from parental chats about children. Your child has special needs, therefore any pregnancy, birth and child-rearing experiences became null and void. Most don’t want to hear your experiences, advice, or memories. I have to guess they don’t pertain to them or they don’t want to think they ever could.
My understanding is this is mostly true for parents with other special needs children as well. I suppose that is why parents, grandparents, etc. of children with disabilities end up talking to each other, form groups, etc. because they have a better understanding of each others needs.
I suppose it’s a fear factor or a subconscious furrowed brow that says why would I, with my normal child want to hear about your child? It’s rarely intentionally rude, but it’s as though somehow if I give advice their child will magically get Autism.
I’ve generally learnt to shut my mouth (a difficult feat for me). Though apparently I have to listen about how ‘perfect’ and ‘adorable’ their child is each time they eat, drink, walk, talk, smile, and burp. I guess I feel the same way about my child.
Somehow, some people believe my child is less because of his Asperger’s Syndrome. And yes, I’ve had people ask me if I would rather have a ‘normal’ child, not many, but it’s happened.
I don’t like to put people into boxes. What is normal? My child is different, but never, ever less. I suppose similar protective feelings cause their ignorant reaction, but why not just accept neurodiversity and stop making painful distinctions?
The intent of more acceptance by opening the world through communications, travel, knowledge, etc. was a noble aim, but I’m afraid intolerance is still very powerful. I hope it’s just habit, not our nature.
People with special needs or differences, challenges seem to arouse two reactions in people: one, a caring or protecting instinct. This is ideal, but not as common as we would wish. I am always thankful for these people as they add so much to our world, and the world.
Then there is the second reaction that is not exclusive to special needs and seen way too often: predatory. They bully, victimize, abuse, demean, demoralize and are generally maltreat those they consider weak. This is wrong on so many levels.
Why the polar opposites? Their differences are like the canary in the coal mine for character, you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the most vulnerable members of a society. As it happens, those few sad apples don’t usually spoil the bunch.