Isn’t the weather in Sydney at the moment glorious. It is like the weather has forgotten for a few days that it is winter and given us a small preview of spring. While I do enjoy the colder weather … I can’t also help but enjoy these bright sunny days when the temperature and humidity is not too high and you feel the warmth of the sun on your face whenever you are outside. Beautiful weather …
Well yesterday I took advantage of it with the kids after we had finished therapy at Lizard. We had alittle extra time because LittleMan’s speech session had been cancelled (his therapy is enjoying a well earned holiday). So after therapy we went for lunch and then on the way home we stopped at a park.
We got there in the mid afternoon and there was a sizable group of parents there for a week-day afternoon. Lots of SAHMs with their kids, mainly huddled in groups around on the outside rim of the main play area, chatting as the kids ran around having fun. All I wanted was the kids to have some time to run around and play … just like all of the other children. Without requests or demands being placed on them … or targets or drills being required of of them. Just play for the sole purpose of having fun and relaxing. To run around and enjoy the beautiful weather … and I guess just be alittle bit normal (as much as we can be). However this was not to be.
It is not that LittleMan was doing anything wrong … he was just being himself and part of that is that he was displaying some of his autistic traits. He wasn’t stimming … he was running around all over and most obviously he was not conforming to general norms of the playground including not speaking. Other kids would talk to him and he would just look at them .. or maybe not at all. He wouldn’t comply with their requests and yes he wouldn’t necessarily play with the equipment in the same way as others. It wasn’t wrong … just different. He was just not conforming to the unwritten rules of the playground. The ones that aren’t taught but you are just required to pick up. The ones that kids with ASD just have so much trouble with. The other kids did stare … and ask their parents about the “strange kid” … the parents did stare …. and from their faces and the words spoken I could see them passing judgement on both him and me … the rude little boy and his disheveled mother. Yesterday I didn’t want to explain myself … I didn’t want to say “I’m am sorry … He has autism”. Why should I? I was tired of explaining myself and him to strangers. I was just tired and wanted a small piece of normalcy if only for a few minutes. And so … in that large group of people I just felt so isolated and alone.
We didn’t stay for long. I let them have some time in the park and brought them home for a play in the backyard. I know I shouldn’t … and it probably says more about me than them but … sometimes I just get so annoyed and frustrated by “typical parents”.
What do you think? Should I have apologized and explained his behaviour to them … Or should people be more tolerate of others with difference without requiring explanation … or should I have jumped into therapist mode (somehow managing both of the kids) and used this as an opportunity to improve his behaviour and skills (although fixing his speech and communications issues might have been a big ask as an afternoon task) … or should I just harden up?