As parents of SEN children, being with them every day we get used to their at times quirky behaviour and to us it soon becomes “normal” – whatever that really means. Whether its Matthew’s flapping, Daniel’s spinning, its just part of what makes them the children they are. I guess we become blind to all the little things that they do.
With that in mind, it often comes as a little shock when any stranger takes notice of their behaviour from a position of ignorance. Maybe seeing a behaviour in isolation, its easier for them to leap to a conclusion and make a judgement without considering any potential root causes. We all do it I suppose, although with having ha to deal with Matthew and Daniel for 6+ years, we’ve become a bit more sensitive about it all.
Yesterday I had a little reminder about how it can be. As I said the other day, we’re at Haven at Haggerston Castle near Berwick. Its great for the boys and has a fabulous amusement arcade that can often lead to sensory overload with all the bright lights and loud noise. The boys are often so anxious that they can seem impatient to get to all the games they want to play. The ability to wait patiently just isn’t in an ASD kid’s DNA. Waiting in itself can be very stressful. On top of that is Matthew and Daniel’s inability to interpret social norms such as giving others personal space and for example time to fully complete an activity and get clear of it all.
On top of that is Matthew’s excitement of seeing others being involved in an activity he enjoys. Whether or not he knows the participant is irrelevant. He just gets right into it. Like yesterday when the boys were waiting to use a virtual ride game in the arcade. Matthew was right at the side jumping on the spot in anticipation. The second the ride was over for the kids on it, Matthew tried to get on. He can’t tell its “normal” behaviour to step back for a few seconds. Its usual behaviour for him though and I don’t really give it a second thought other than to remind him to wait a second. Well, the mum of the kids on the ride didn’t see it that way. She glared at Matthew then looked right down her nose at me and said, “They’re eager beavers, aren’t they?” An innocent comment perhaps, but indicative of a lack of consideration and understanding. To this lady, they were just impatient boys who would give her kids the chance to get off the ride. I could have explained about why autism means they don’t understand about patience, but decided to shrug it off and said, “aren’t they?”
Perhaps she didn’t mean anything by it but you can get used to that lack of consideration from people on the outside looking in. As parents of ASD children, we’ve all been there. Its a hidden disability and people tend to see only physical disability and don’t consider mental health issues. Our kids look “normal” so any unusual behaviour is put down as bad behaviour. Its times like those when you are reminded how different your children really are.