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Monday, June 24, 2013

That look.

If you are a parent of a child with autism, you know which one I'm about to talk about.  As I just had happen again to me, times three, while out for pizza with my kiddo.

Yes, I was sure lucky to get that dripping with disdain expression from you, old ladies at the pizza place.  That my son's mere existence in your world for about forty five minutes was almost to much for you to handle.  That his noises coupled with my constant prompting to use a correct volume of his voice and to eat his food won me the chance to see you roll your eyes at each other several times.   I guess I ruined your dining experience when I decided for two minutes to just try to eat as many bites as I could while he sang "Sha Boom Sha Boom".  Hey, you think you could at least appreciate a song from your era.

I have no doubt that when you all piled in your car later, many remarks were made about my kiddo.  You probably thought that time stood still while we were there, two tables over from you.   Would we ever leave?  Would he ever stop making noises or repeating lines from TV shows?  I'm sure we gave you quite a lot to talk about on your ride home.  Here's the difference between you and I.  I bet you forgot about us as soon as you pulled into your driveway.   Here I sit, two days later, wondering about you.  Beating myself up over how he behaved.  How I ruined your dinner.  Wondering why couldn't you just see I was trying my damn best.   Oh and while you thought his noises were so annoying, you do have it better than me.   You didn't have to go home with them.   You won't be woken up at 5AM by them.  Or possibly even earlier.  You don't have to do the autism dance of back and forth.  Allowing him to have appropriate times and places to stim and teaching him when and where they are not acceptable.  I bet you thought you could get him to stop.  Good luck with that.  Spend a day with my kiddo when he's in a high stimmy day groove.  You wouldn't last an hour in my world.   You just proved that by how you acted over one dinner. 

I get it.  Your age probably had a lot to do with those looks you gave me.   I don't think my kiddo noticed.  I'm hoping he didn't.  I sure felt your eyes on me as I struggled to prompt him to take bites, dig another trick out of my autism mommy purse, and try to eat a bit of dinner myself.  As much as your looks annoyed me, I'm not going to stop going out with my kiddo.  No way.  No how.  With all the studies and stats on autism, I know it's in your families too.  Maybe not close enough like it is in my house but it's there.  You probably never even heard of autism until some celebrity's kid had it and they told their story exclusively on some television show.  Here's the thing, these kids aren't tucked away anymore. He won't learn how to be unless I take him out. There's no better learning than real like experience.

But let's break this down a little more shall we?  You were at a flipping pizza place.   I didn't drag my 9 year old into Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.  I took him to the local pizzeria  that just happens to have wait service in the back room.  I was sipping a soda while you were sipping screw top bottle wine.  (I don't judge screw top but please let's not pretend that makes you fancy schmancy)  As restaurants go, that's where any parent brings their kids without thinking twice about it.  So if you want that real high end experience you feel you are entitled to, you best start going to places that don't have a Pepsi cooler full of soda and Vitamin Water by the front door.   Sorry that the wait staff ignored you for a moment but they were being nice by fetching us a coloring book and crayons without me even asking for them to help keep him entertained.  The waitress who looked barely old enough to drive seemed to be a little more in tune with my kid and what we might need to make this easier than you three Bitches of Eastwick.  Did you notice that all my prompts were mostly my concern he not bother you?  Trust me gals, it could of been a whole lot nosier.  You got off light.

My son is nine and I'm getting damn tired of that look.   I know it won't be the last time we get it either.  If there is any silver lining to this, that look tells me pretty quickly who to bother with and who not to even waste my time.  I guess I'm lucky that these people are not in my life.   At one point, I did lock eyes on one of you and you quickly looked away.  Didn't like the look I had on my face did ya?  Oh well.  Too bad. So sad. I'm still sitting here thinking about yours.  Thanks for the nice blog fodder though.  Till we meet again because we eat there a lot. ;-)


21 comments:

  1. Sigh, I feel ya for sure. Hey, enjoy your pizza date out with your son and do not feel apologetic for it. I watched Rainman for the first time ever this last weekend. I had to laugh at Tom Cruise's frustration since I can now relate. The general public needs to go from denial and disdain to acceptance. Despising us and our kids will not make us simply go away. Val

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  2. I LOVE this post! We ate out a a local fast food place on Sunday and got the look from everyone there. My son is nearly 18 and he still can get loud in a restaurant...and he loves to SWEAR too. :-) That darn near makes the Blue Hair Brigade faint dead away.

    Yeah...the looks still annoy me. Not much I can do about small minded people in their tiny universe of perfectness. So we all move on.

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  3. Yep, know the look. It bothers me most when we're at church or in FAMILY restaurants. I get tired of it, too.

    By the way, I'm still laughing at the "Bitches of Eastwick" comment. Loved it.

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  4. My son's only two and a half and I already know that look. But I'm an older mom who doesn't care as much what others think, especially the blue hairs who grew up in a time when appearances were the most important thing in life. Screw their judgments. That's their problem, not yours. Besides they have nothing better to do. Blow it off and know you're a great mom. You do what's best for your kiddo and taking him to a pizzaria sounds like a great outing. I would love to see my son eat a piece of pizza. Or say more than two words. The 'bitches of Eastwick' have no clue.

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  5. So true. When my son was younger we went to a rest. with my mom and it was during early bird time. My son stood up in the booth(after bouncing around and doing his thing while waiting for the waitress), looked around and said at the top of his voice "boy Nanny, there sure are a lot of old people in here!" I think the entire place stopped eating. Me, I just laughed my @ss off. SO there you go.

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  6. I'd love to eat out with you and your son! Sounds like a good time.

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  7. AMEN TO THAT ;)....So good to see it put down in words and not carrying it around and replaying it over and over in your head..How I have done that with my own son .You should write a book from the parents side of things ..You should call it ''The Look'' chapter one ...''Watching you,watching us'' ... Stay strong :)

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  8. Had they not have been together, they would never have had the guts to be so obvious. They did not have the guts to say anything for you or other patrons to hear. If they have since related this story to others, at least one of them has received a dressing-down.

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  9. I hate those Bitches of Eastwick, I really do. There seems to be one of these everywhere we go. Oh well, my kids will be my kids and I will take them out because you're right - how else are they to learn how to be in public if we don't take them out there?

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  10. your blog post is spot on! Frustrating and sad to be on the receiving end of those looks, all I can say is, I feel sorry for them. Your humor is the an awesome way of looking at life and coping with it. Your son is lucky to have you. Life is a journey but you were not given a map, enjoy the rids!

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  11. I am so isolated from friends and family. The constant judgement of my child and my ability as a single mom. I am active from 2:00pm-4:00am to avoid the constant critism and unasked for advise. My child is a teenage girl. The schools do not care if she is harassed or bullied. In fact the assistant principle grabbed her by her backpack picked her up and tossed her aside because she was "in his way". I have gone thru 3 different school systems due to the fact that her IEP is not implemented. One school had no one who was available to dispense meds. One had a principle yell at me because the cops had to stop her abusive bio father from taking her against court order. One had teachers mock her and I on their public facebok page. Family court wants her to be with her abuser. The guardian ad lietum went to her school to pay a surprize visit by pulling her out of class because I am "lying and coaching" her on what to say??? That day was a highstress day anyway. She does not like the fact the ad lietum(her lawyer) advocates for her father and not for her. After being pulled out of class and feeling embarassed and panicky with her PSTD being triggered she said she has to use the bathroom. I was being held at the court house all this time...She was starting to dissociate and in the bathroom stall dialed me on her cell phone. Her lawyer had quietly followed her in to the bathroom. When she was trying call me her lawyer yelled at her outside her stall to hang up and get off the phone. She was told to get out of the bathroom stall and had to go to an empty room un her school while her lawyer interrogated her. My daughter was so distraut she never returned to her school. She was granted permission to take as her final grades what grades she currently had. to be continued....

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  12. Loved your pizza post. I'm a blue hair with an autistic grandson age 4. I am also a retired special ed teacher. You go anywhere you want with your son and please don't take the look personally. Many others also get the look. Being a good and caring parent is a positive sign to others too. Keep up the good work and enjoy all of your outings with your son!!!

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  13. My son has Aspergers and ADHD and to most he looks normal, until he decides to flip, we see this look, directed as us as if we are bad parents who cannot control their child, he cannot be controlled when he flips, he just has to be helped to calm down.

    I am going to have a T shirt mad up for myself, it will read:

    "I cannot smack the Aspergers out of my son anymore than I can beat the ignorance out of you but I'm willing to give YOU a go!"

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    Replies
    1. PLEASE MAKE THIS SHIRT. I want one!!!!!!!!!

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  14. you are better than me; I would have felt compelled to set those witches straight on their ignorance. There are times I can ignore the looks, etc (my son is 6 with PDD/NOS & SPD dx's) but there are others when he is being "good" for him and someone gives that look I am COMPELLED by something deep inside to give them a good tongue lashing for their ignorance

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  15. I sing Sh-boom to my son all the time! No one has heard of it! Obviously your son has amazing taste. (And a cool mum.)

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  16. I have seen the "look" too. I do not have an autistic child, but I used to work at a grocery store where a man would bring in his autistic son several times a week. I was one of the few people who would speak to his son as if he was a normal human being, even though he did not act like he heard me, I believed he was listening. He would run around the store in bare feet sometimes, and people would stare. It was sad and I often wondered how his father felt. Such a nice family, too!!

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  17. What is it with nasty people and pizza places? Here's my experience. :( http://different-not-less.blogspot.com/2012/02/it-finally-happened.html

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  18. The Look is worse when it comes from people you know and who you think would be more understanding. Everyone else thinks they could put a stop to that (whatever "that" may be at the moment) if it was their child. I used to actually eat some of my son's food in restaurants because I got so tired of servers making comments about how their kids would eat that food or else.

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  19. Thought you might enjoy this, sister: http://fullspectrummama.blogspot.com/2013/07/eighty-sixed.html

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