Friday, 15 March 2013

Beware the Autism Mom!

A friend of mine reposted this on facebook earlier this week.  I have read it MANY times before, but never before have I felt so much like I have become this person.  This mom.  And I am not ashamed, I just feel as though I have been through my initiation and I am no longer willing to take bullshit.  I have not felt like hiding because of my kids in a long time.  We are who we are- take that!

Last weekend I took the boys to the mall to get some spring clothes for Jack.  He was in a bad way that day, hadn't slept real well and was having horrific poop issues.  Which is, like for many autism families, an ongoing saga in our house.  I smelled something while I was trying to grab as many t-shirts and pairs of shorts as possible before the inevitable meltdown that comes with being in a busy place doing something that he would never choose to do, when I smelled it.  I looked at Jack and he said, "no really, I just farted", then he burst into tears.  I felt terrible for him, as I know how sensory related this all is, that it really isn't his fault.  We are standing at the checkout, he is hitting every button on the credit card machine, he is talking talking talking.  I physically removed his hands from the machine about 10 times, we had to keep redoing the transaction.  Meanwhile Nate is blissfully sleeping in the stroller (thank God for small miracles).  The cashier was making faces at us, I could tell she was annoyed.  The cashier standing next to her smiled at me and said "don't worry, I know what's it's like, I had two boys too".  I smiled back, understanding that this woman was trying to show empathy- however this did not stop me from snapping in that moment.  That part I feel a LITTLE bad about.  I responded, "oh, did they both have autism too?"  It wasn't directed at the nice woman, it was directed at the biotch who was making me immensely uncomfortable with her looks.  Enter awkward silence.  So I grinned, told Jack it was time to go and headed to the bathroom to deal with the disaster I knew was awaiting me.  Let's just say we drove home with Jack going commando.  Hey, at least most of the spring shopping is done.

The below post is from the autism mom blog Laughing Through Tears.  It is such a perfect representation of how I feel so often now that I just had to share. 

We’ve all been there.  Every autism mom has had at least one encounter with some insensitive jackass who insulted our children or criticized our parenting.  It might have been the perfectly groomed soccer mom who said your child was merely spoiled, or maybe the old biddy that told you to take your screaming kid outside even though you were already dragging him out the door in a Fireman Carry, or maybe just some random mean guy who muttered, “This is why I hate kids” under his breath while your child happily flapped past him.
Usually we just have to mention “autism” and the critics slink away, embarrassed and with their tails between their legs, but every now and then you meet somebody who is such a huge asshole they don’t care if your kid is autistic, they just care that your child’s noise/stim/existence is annoying to them, and they don’t hesitate to tell you about how obnoxious your child is and what a terrible job you’re doing raising him.
Sometimes their callousness shocks us silent, and we sit in the car afterward, thinking of all the retorts we could have made.  Sometimes we take the higher ground and walk away, and sometimes we dig in and defend ourselves. (And sometimes we defend ourselves loudly and with many obscenities, but that bitch in the bookstore deserved it!)
These people who attack us are horrible because they have no empathy.  They’re shallow people who probably lead miserable lives devoid of depth and meaning.  They need to learn compassion and respect, but mostly they need to learn to fear us, because autism moms are not to be trifled with.
 Top Five Reasons You Should Never Piss Off an Autism Mom
Five.  We’re Already on the Defensive
What?  You think you’re the first person to think I’m a bad mother? Get in line.  People have been assuming I’m a bad mother for the last five years.  I chew up people who think I’m a bad parent for breakfast. You think there’s something wrong with my kid?  No shit, Sherlock – this panel of physicians and psychologists agrees with you.  Tell us something we don’t know.  Have something new and clever to add?  No? NO?  I didn’t think so…
In other words, we have experience with assholes like you.
Four.  We Are Not Socially Well-Adjusted
We were real people once, and we will be real people again someday, but right now we’re living on the fringe of polite society.  We have cut ties and discarded the family and friends who couldn’t handle our situation.  We all suffer from severe PTSD. Our houses are messy, our surfaces are sticky, and we know the words to way too many Wiggles songs. We clean up disasters that you couldn’t even begin to contemplate.  We live in semi-isolation, trying to have philosophical conversations with children who only know 18 words.  We wear yoga pants all day. Our lives are not like other people’s lives. Do you really want to make us angry? Or do you want to give us a really really wide berth and back away slowly because you’re scared of what we might do if we snap?  Yes.  Good choice.
Three. We Know How to Fight
Autism moms know how to fight because we practice. We fight all day long.  We fight with doctors about treatment, and then we fight with insurance companies to get it paid for.  We fight with the state over services and we fight with schools about our IEPs.  We fight with our families who won’t come to visit us anymore and we fight with our husbands to let off steam from all the other fighting we’re constantly doing.  We fight with our children to make them keep their pants on in public.   Do you think for a second that we would hesitate to fight with a complete stranger who was totally asking for it?
Two.  We’re Already Angry
Autism moms carry huge amounts of unprocessed rage just below the surface.  We’re mad at god or the universe or fate or whatever it is out there that gave our children autism.  We are furious at the cards we were dealt and indignant that such a horrible thing had to happen to our children.  We are angry about the loss of the child we were supposed to have, and we never truly stop mourning.  We’re angry at the doctors who didn’t catch it early enough and also at the doctors who did.  We hold a grudge against anybody who ever failed us as we tried to make sense of this chaos, and we’re also furious at ourselves, because we constantly feel like we’re not doing enough to help and we’re secretly afraid that it might somehow be our fault in the first place.  We are already walking bundles of resentment…do you want to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
One. We’re Sleep Deprived
Some of us haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years.  Between the stress, depression, anxiety, and the kid who wakes up screaming for popsicles at 3 a.m., we’re all beyond exhausted.  We’re muddled and short-tempered and irrational and crazy.  Like ax murderer crazy. Like Mel Gibson crazy. There are all sorts of studies linking sleep deprivation to psychosis and that would probably hold up in court if I decided to assault you.  Keep that in mind the next time you fail to keep your opinions to yourself, and beware the autism mom.

AMEN fellow blogger, A-MEN. 

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