Sunday, 17 September 2017

You don't need to shield your kids from my autistic children

You don't need to shield your kids from my autistic children - Jane at the gate

In the last few days our youngest daughter Jane has started reception - and she is super excited.  For a week she does half days, so in a few days she will be on the regular school pick up run. This means she will be there and sometimes I may have her autistic brothers with us.

I know that mums in the playground can be a bit 'cliquey'.  I'm not naturally the parent you'd gravitate towards.  I am practical, not fashionable.  I'm usually late, not early so I can never chat. I am short, wear zero make-up and am lucky if I have brushed my hair before it is scooped into a pony tail as I turn up at the school gates.  However, the reaction to my kids and I can seem a bit extreme when I'm collecting Jane and have to bring her autistic brothers into the playground.

The boys may appear to be naughty or ridiculously mollycuddled for their size.  They may jump about, shout, scream or lie down on the floor. But I want people to know, it's ok, you don't have to be afraid of us.

You see, I've already seen the look when people are afraid of us.  I've seen the wide birth with the eyes of horror.  I've seen parents pull their kids away from our family.  Not when anything serious has been happening, just when David has maybe been squealing or jumping about. Or when Anthony has been skipping a bit erratically.

Their behaviour may look odd but it's not harming.   If they do anything that may harm other kids, don't worry, I'm well aware of what they are doing.   I'm watching my kids like a hawk... it's another reason I'm not chatting to the other mums.

By school pick up time, the boys have been busy concentrating all day and now they are coping with lots of kids they don't know, people they don't know in a place that's loud and open to the elements.  They are doing a good job.  But by hushing your children past or pulling them out of the way... what are you saying?  What message about difference and acceptance are you portraying? Autism isn't catching you know.  It isn't a disease to fear. And neither are my kids.

You don't need to shield your kids from my autistic children - David in the playground

Autism is part of my beautiful boys.  Yes, they can be challenging.  Yes, they can appear strange. Yes, David will be seven next year, but still doesn't talk. But they are, as is Jane, wonderful kids. I know few people with a greater sense of injustice that Anthony, and honestly, no-one that finds joy in singular moments like David.

We are hoping to collect Jane first on our the whirlwind of school pick-ups that goes along with having children with different needs at different schools.  But on the odd occasions, if we have things like music therapy or appointments to get to, I'll be there with two older autistic boys.  And I'd love it if you treated us just the same as when I was there with just Jane.  Perhaps with just a touch of understanding if I have to run off again.  Thank you.

Read more - An apology to those upset by my autistic kids in public places
Read more - How I know my autistic son is happy with who he is

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  1. I think you've captured this perfectly - my brother has ADD and I know as a child I found it frustrating when we always had to dash off from the school gates. Reading it from your point of view has given me a glimpse of what my Mum may have thought!


  2. So sad that in 30 years nothing has changed, I used to call them the playground mafia, so smug �� looking down on me.....there but for the grace of God go I......hold your head up high, your an amazing mother, let them walk one day in your shoes they would never survive. Xx

  3. I understand and want to provide a glimpse of the other side. I am one of the parents that pulls her daughter close or moves her away. We are not afraid we will catch something, we have our own sound sensitivity issues and we are trying to mitigate stress before we have a problem. Since we can't always see someone else's rainbow, remember they could be proactively handling theirs.

    1. Absolutely, I completely agree. We spend time with kids with many difficulties and this is definitely worth remembering. Thanks for sharing this message too.

  4. Several of my friends have autistic children and my kids have been friends with them the whole time so we are all very understanding. I hope you don't have too many problems in the playground.
    Thanks so much for linking up with #kcacols. We hope you can join us next time.

  5. Dear Ann, your words have really left an imprint on me. I try 99% not to be that mother who pulls her child away (though I probably falter once in a while and I just want you to know its not out of harmful intentions at all and yet as a mother I can see how awful it must seem to you). On the other hand sometimes I wonder how far I should go in order to normalise the situation (without causing problems). Should we stop and say hello, should we just carry on as normal? Sending lots of love your way... we're all mothers trying our best and I do believe mothers have this superhuman trait of being able to love all children equally xx

  6. I think people fear the unknown but in steering their children away they are missing out on a wonderful family it seems. #PoCoLo

  7. This is really lovely, I have spent many years working with some fantastic kids on the spectrum. It's frustrating that people's lack of understanding can lead to their isolation. Well done for writing such a well balanced post xx

  8. This is so thought provoking Ann. We're just getting used to school pick ups and I'm learning that the school gates aren't always the most welcoming and accepting of places. It sounds to me like you are an amazing Mum and I love what you're doing to raise awareness and help people to understand how their naive reactions can cause such upset. Brilliantly written. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  9. Brilliantly put!!! I do hate that wide eyed stare and the invisible electric field around us when people walk round at a safe distance. Thank you for sharing 🌟 #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  10. I'm dreading the school gates and playground... I find it sad that people still behave this way. #ablogginggoodtime

  11. This must be so horrible. It is such a human reaction to fear anyone who is 'different' and I guess some of these parents' reactions are reflexive and not intended maliciously. But you're so right about the perception it creates - both for your kids and other kids. It would be so much better if people took the time to understand and educate.

    When our kids were in preschool, there was a girl there who had an artificial leg and there were times when she would have to have it removed and replaced. The staff there were brilliant - they would do it openly rather than hiding her away out of sight, then explain everything to the other kids. So now when our kids see someone with an artificial limb or in a wheelchair (they grew up with two grandparents who were wheelchair-bound), it's no big deal to them. They don't see children who are defined by a certain condition - they just see another child who is different in a different way, just as some kids have ginger hair or are particularly tall. It's all natural to them, nothing to be feared. It's a shame more parents don't have that kind of open attitude too. #KCACOLS

  12. We have autistic kids come into the pharmacy all the time so it's nothing I react too really, not negatively anyway. I was wondering recently what the best way to talk to a child about other autistic children was though and how I would explain it to my son when he's older. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

  13. Well said! I spent many years working with autistic children. It is so sad that both parents and their children cope with things that they don't understand by either running away or making fun of them.

  14. i was never the parent who pulled my child away but often my kids would chose to stand behind me and not want to interact with kids with dificulties, this was because they have an older sister with profound disabilities, including aggression and when we were out without her, they'd want a quiet life, I'd want to explain to the other parent why my child didn't want to play with theirs, but I got fed up myself of other people saying 'we've got a child like that ourselves' however when the ball was on the other foot, i'd often snap 'you can't catch anything you know' vicious circle #spectrumsunday

  15. It's so sad when difference scares us. Keep writing so and telling these stories so we, in the world can improve, undersatnd, and hopefully find empathy. hugs #ablogginggoodtime xoxo

  16. This is so sad when parents do this. Hide away from something they don't know or understand. #kcacols


I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

What is Autism?
It's so much I couldn't possibly try and explain. For us it's wonderful and heart-breaking. Joyous and truthful. But as far as diagnosis is concerned, why not have a look at the National Autistic Society for their definition of Autism.
@rainbowsaretoo Ann H on Google + rainbowsaretoo pinterest rainbowsaretoobeautiful bloglovin Instagram rainbowsaretoobeautiful
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