Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Autism Answer: Parenting In The World

When I see a child (regardless of age) having a tantrum or melt-down in public, and I see a mom or dad or sibling struggle to help, or ignore, or teach, or insist, I rarely judge. The parent or the child.

I don't think "Well, maybe the child is autistic" or "Perhaps it's just because they've had a rough day" or "I hope that kid learns to behave soon" or "That family has their hands full" or... well, you get it. 

My own sons had tantrums and melt-downs. Sometimes because they were overwhelmed, sometimes because they thought it would get them what they wanted, sometimes because they liked the feeling of everybody staring at us. 

I didn't like it, and I always did my best to parent the way I thought I should in the moment, and that was that. 

So, when I see it happening with another family I generally smile and understand and think, "Parenting sure is a lot of work. And we all have to learn it in front of an audience. That makes it a little bit harder for most of us. But boy, it's totally worth it!"

I don't think it's kind to give parents a smile and a nice word just because their loved one might be autistic or have a sensory problem or painful gut issues. I think it's kind to give parents a smile and a nice word because they are people doing the best they can with what they know. 

And so are we. 

I'll admit, it was autism that gave me this thought. Autism answered again! It was because of loving people who struggle with sensory issues and gut pain and face blindness that I began to realize the importance of never judging others. I started off thinking "Well, they could be autistic." or "It could be an invisible problem that I should be accepting of." 

But then I realized..... well, heck! I should just plain and simply never judge others! It's not my place to make excuses for them, or to sit in judgement.

Having thoughtful opinions and ideas about the people in my world is nourishing and valuable. But choosing to judge them, as though I have some important role, is unhealthy for all of us. 

The world is already getting overly hidden away and unconnected. Being able to avoid grocery store meltdowns and playground social lessons has grown easier in a world that brings food and entertainment easily to your door or pocket with the click of a button. 

I suggest we make parenting in the world as kind and forgiving as possible. We don't have to remind ourselves "Maybe she's on the autism spectrum" but can instead remember "We're all doing the best we can with what we know."

And then we can connect and reach out to know more! 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)