My Facebook status today read:
I just got a care package in the mail with a beautiful letter from my best friend’s Mum…….it’s so wonderful to be randomly blessed like that! Made my day
And it DID totally make my day.
But you know what? The package wasn’t filled with chocolates, flowers or expensive gifts because Mrs M knows that this is not what I cherish the most, but instead it was filled with something much MUCH better than that!
It was filled with words, and it was filled with love….Lots and lots of both of my two favourite things
She has taken the time over many months to cut out articles from various magazines and newspapers and she has saved them up to send to me.
But these aren’t just random articles; they were all chosen with the specific purpose of encouraging me. Some are about ASD, some aren’t but each of them has a message of triumph through trials and average people achieving extraordinary things.
It really is so humbling to read this stuff and realise what a blessing my children really are.
Mrs M is ‘officially’ retired but still teaches primary school on a casual basis and in her letter she wrote of an incident that happened at school recently with a little boy the same age as Harley who is also on the autistic spectrum. My eyes welled up with tears as I read about how this little fella had a big meltdown and started kicking, punching, biting and screaming at her because he wasn’t coping. And this all occurred because he ‘thought’ he had lost at a game.
She wrote that she remembered reading in my blog that the best thing to do in situations like this is to stay calm, speak quietly and remove the child gently from the scene so that they can gather themselves and calm down. She remembered that trying to punish or discipline a child in circumstances like this is not only futile but so so wrong because the child is not being ‘naughty’.
She then wrote that later on when he came to apologise to her that she was able to convey to him that she understood that he wasn’t angry with her but that he aimed it at her because he didn’t know what else to do and she just happened to be there. She told him that she understood that his anger overwhelmed him and he lost control in the moment.
(On a side note: I hear of situations like this happening time and time again to children on the spectrum and it breaks my heart to hear them spoken of as “bratty”, “spoiled”, “naughty” or “badly parented” kids, ESPECIALLY when I hear it from teachers or professionals in the educational system who have clearly no personal understanding of ASD. I can’t help but wonder if these people actually lived with a family affected by the many manifestations of ASD for even a day, would it cause them to maybe change their opinions?)
But thankfully, that is not the case here.
And it says:
‘The difference between high-functioning and low-functioning autism is that in high-functioning: your deficits are ignored and in low-functioning, your assets are ignored.’
Think about that: To put that quote in the context of the above story…..I’ll dissect it for you all.
ALL disorders on the autism spectrum both high functioning and low functioning share the exact same core deficits . It’s called the Triad Of Impairments and it is made up of:
- Social and Emotional Interaction
- Social communication and Language
- Imagination and flexible thinking
Put simply – people could look at him and see that he LOOKS normal and wrongly assume that he must therefore BE normal and place unfair expectations on him forgetting (or being unaware) that he has impairments in all 3 major areas of social interaction. So his deficits are ignored because they aren’t obvious.
And because I don’t have a low-functioning child – it wouldn’t be fair for me to write anything about perceptions or realities here because I will never understand it like a parent of one of these beautiful kids so I won’t even try.
So back to Mrs M….
I was so incredibly touched by her story. What a remarkable teacher she is and how excited I was that someone read the words of a simple stay-at-home Mum and didn’t disregard my advice because I am not university educated or professionally qualified in autism. I’ve always said that I may not hold any degrees or have any medical knowledge per say but I know my child more than anyone else on this planet and this THIS is why I continue to write about my family on the world-wide-web.
THIS is why I put us out there for all to judge in the small hope that even one person would learn that individuals on the autistic spectrum are worthy of the extra time and effort that it takes to learn more about how to best parent, live with and befriend them.
Kids like mine are amazing but all too often they are misjudged, misunderstood and grossly underestimated.
There needs to be more Teachers, Doctors, Health Professionals and Community Workers out there like Mrs M who are teachable and willing to listen to parents. And I for one am not going to stop writing until I’m satisfied that I’m being heard
I seriously love this kid…..how could anyone not want to learn to understand more about autism.