Oh, how I wish I could have gone my blogging life without having to write a post with that exact title. Yesterday we experienced our first bit of ignorance to our autistic child, our son Dylan. As he is getting older the fact he is more unique than most other kids his age is becoming more apparent; I know it will not be long before parents on the school run make some comment about him still being in a pram. Sometimes the looks I get make me want to give them my life story about how it is too dangerous for him not to be strapped in a pram for now, but then, after all, it is none of their business.
But he is still a child and a young one at that, he is still 3 and still a toddler. He is still a typical child, and this is what I thought he was until someone reminded me otherwise. We were at a till point in Poundland (4 tins of Heinz beans for £1 – high fives), and the toddlers were in their pram, and both were equally making some excited noises. Dylan was very happy and very excited, and we love this and encourage it. Neither of them was screaming, crying or shouting or making any unpleasant noises. They were happily excited, and Dylan had a slight flap to his hands but nothing out of the ordinary. Not like we would notice anything different ourselves as we are so used to him and his ways. The man didn’t see it as he was talking to the toddlers but as I turned away, the woman made it clear how disgusted she was with the children making noises, and the look she gave Dylan made my heart explode.
I tried my best not to say anything and wanted just to walk away, but I just could not do that without saying something. I was pretty sure that her husband was waiting to the side, and I asked if that was his wife and he said yes and I told him clearly that my son has autism. I may have started to make this clear to his wife as well by which point the man had cottoned on to what had happened, and he also joined in on saying that our son is autistic. There was no need for her behaviour if it was directed at children without special needs or not.
What got me the most is that the sounds he was making wasn’t of screams or crying but of excitement and he was making his excitement clear. I count my blessings that for now, Dylan can still cope with the shopping environment, that as long as he is strapped into his pram he feels secure and that is his safe place. We were so hurt by this woman’s reaction and I was even more hurt to see how much it had made my husband sad, as he cuddled our son and told Dylan how much he loved him I could not help but to feel angry at how someone else felt the right to hurt my family with their words and reactions. It may not have been a big deal to her, but it was a big deal to us.