Thursday, July 9, 2015

Autism Answer: Be Strong And Smart And Loving Enough To Listen

When my four sons were itty bitty adorable snuggle bugs I used to playfully whine and beg them for hugs. I felt like I was being fun and reminding them in silly ways how much I love them. 

One day my second oldest son (who liked snuggles least of all) said with clarity, and a bit of anger, "You always say that rape is bad, but then you don't listen when we say no to your hugs. It's like your saying one thing and doing a different thing. It's snuggle rape." 

Wow! My son was only about seven at the time but he was absolutely right! It hurt me to remember all of the times I'd insisted and begged and believed I was doing the right thing. I apologized and made a promise to always wait for permission. You know, as long as they promised to remember that I always love them and always want a snuggle! tee hee! 

Now that my sons are all teenagers and adults I'm so glad that I listened to my darling boy that day. 

Not only are my young men growing into fantastic people, but we are (mostly) comfortable talking about the so many important lessons we learned on that day. Not only when it comes to sex, but when it comes to how we treat others in general. Especially the importance of listening when they tell us how we're making them feel. 

One thing we've all been encouraged to learn in the autism world is the concretely different ways the world behaves and feels and smells and looks from person to person. For people with sensory issues or unusual pathways and connections in their brains, this is especially true. So even if a person appears to be the same as you--the same color, religion, and sex--they aren't. Possibly they are drastically different!

Very often we have lovely intentions and it can be easy to roll our eyes at people who tell us our actions make them feel perpetrated on. What a dangerous and cruel mistake! 

My son was strong and smart and stood up to me that day. And I was strong and smart and loving enough to listen. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
(But only if you want it! Giggle!)

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)


Author's Invitation: Yesterday I enjoyed being interviewed about my book Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself on the podcast Envision This! We talked about parenting, autism, poverty, mixed-race relationships, and living on the edge of society. I also spent some time explaining more about the importance of listening to others. I hope you'll head over and have a listen! Not only was the conversation fun but they also played never before heard studio recordings of my song (Sexy Daydreams) and my son's song (Brothers)!!!! Enjoy!!!