Wildflowers for Jade: Typical people, it’s time to start pulling your weight

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Typical people, it’s time to start pulling your weight

Years of therapy - speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior therapy, and social skills. My 5 year old has worked his butt off to learn how to understand and relate to the typical world. What a smile means, what a frown means, what sarcasm is and why people don’t say what they mean and mean what they say. Don’t hug, don’t touch, don’t stand too close because it makes the typicals uncomfortable. We still haven’t got that down. Typical kids jump away like they’ve never had affection at home. Sometimes I feel sorry for them.

He. Tries. SO. Hard. He doesn’t get it right. The kids are mean. He wants to give up. He echoes lines from his superhero cartoons “That kid is NOT my bro.” He sobs in my lap for a half hour because I won’t let him quit soccer this time.

And I think, it’s not fair really. He was born behind the curve in understanding an illogical world. Meanwhile those for whom learning comes easy breeze through with a scorn and a laugh, some flippant remarks, adults who think we all “take it too seriously” when every day that we go out in public is a war. A war to keep my child from sinking into self-hatred and killing himself. Too dramatic again? Uh oh, better run back to your pintrest and desperate housewives, because today I’m keeping it real.

See, words and attitudes do hurt, even for a child who might not have the finest grasp on words. What he understands less is why he’s an automatic outcast. He takes it out on himself, not knowing how he’s messing it up, but knowing that he is.

My five year old said he hates himself and wants to kill himself. Several times.

At first I reacted by saying I hate Autism. But I don’t. I hate typical. Typical, self-important, entitled yahoos to whom life hands apples and they make quips about what to do when you get lemons.

The week I was dealing with a suicidal five year old, rejection on the playground, new soccer kids in new soccer team who scorn and push and play better, meltdowns in public and sobfests in my arms; that same week I am confronted by an internet post that mocked parents who have screaming kids in target. Bring on the inevitable tidal wave of public opinion and vicious posts about bad parents and rotten kids. I wasn’t mad, yet. I know people are ignorant (though it’s 2012 and the information age, for God’s sake.) I'm always more hurt for Jaden than offended for me, because people think of him that way. Kids do pick up on those attitudes, yes even kids with disabilities. I insert a small PSA about special needs kids and thinking before you bitch, and get the slap down because life is rainbows and I should learn to laugh about it more. “We all have problems.” Yep, I can remember the time I had to choose which coffee to make in the morning and trying to make it home from work in time to watch my favorite show. God, life was rough.

I do laugh at myself, my problems, my issues and my screw-ups. I make jokes about it all the time. Humor and finding the joy in my life, or at least the sarcasm, is part of what holds me together. My husband left me? I have jokes for that. Don’t have a job because I’m caring for my son? Sure, poor humor is rich. You put down my son (or incite others to do the same)? I will tear your fucking eyes out. Fair enough? Some things. Aren’t. Funny.

Jaden is about to complete his 3rd year of therapy. All that to relate to the typical world, and because that’s what he wants to do, not because I give a damn about him looking like a “real boy.” And he’s doing amazing, just absolutely amazing and I’m proud of him and the hard work he’s done. He’s doing great until he’s around typical kids who see different a mile away no matter how much therapy it’s had.

How much time have you invested in your kids, or even yourself, to be able to relate to children/people/families with special needs? If a child with special needs is behind already, and your honor roll kids are so smart, why is it so hard for them to learn how to meet a child with Autism half way instead of making that kid do all the work to get up to their standards? Instead of handing out donations at the supermarket and thinking you did something special, why don’t you spend some time teaching your kids what special really is, why different doesn’t mean bad, and how to be a friend?  We’ve invested 3 years and counting. You can match that with at least a few days.

A child having a meltdown at the supermarket doesn’t offend me, by the way, but a mean-spirited child sure does. I blame the parents.

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