In many areas of our lives, we are constantly being watched and judged. One of those areas is our parenting. Complete strangers, and even our friends are quick to jump up and down about our terrible parenting skills if they see a child who is out of control.
But what if that child is Autistic? He or she may look like any other child, but their disability is just as real as those you can see at first glance.
I have 3 children with disabilities. One (or maybe more of them?!) has Aspergers Syndrome, one has a Traumatic Brain Injury, and one has Down Syndrome. Each has her own issues. But, when it comes to judgement, I received more regarding my daughter with AS, than with any of the others. Particularly within the church/homeschooling community. Why? Because her behaviour was obviously due to bad parenting.
This attitude causes so much heartache and pain for so many parents. Many of the issues I face are now long past. But I am going to recall a few things that have happened recently for a dear friend of mine while changing a few details to respect her privacy.
This mother has been living with ASD unknowingly for years. She has more than one child on the spectrum. Yet in recent years, things have been particularly tough. One of her children is more to the autism end of the spectrum than the others. And this child has been very hard work for her. She is now at the point where most of her life revolves around this child. She cannot take the child out without worrying that road will be run onto, tantrums will be had, and others will be judging. Her social life has dwindled to almost nothing. I worry about her night and day. Many of my prayers are sent up on her behalf. Her husband is withdrawing into his work more and more - a common occurance in special needs families. Services out here are insufficient to meet this childs needs. Perhaps an AEIOU preschool would help. But her husband does not wish to move closer to one, so she plows on, taking on full responsibility for her childs education, behaviour, speech therapy, and all other needs.
She is perpetually tired. She is trying to be everything to everyone. She recently forgot an appointment at the end of a long and difficult day. Rather than understanding, she received an angry phone call whereby the caller refused to accept her apology. One could brush this off as being an ignorant person who didn't matter. But this was someone who holds a lot of sway for her. Someone who represents her only real social group. And now she no longer feels a welcome part of that group.
Autism is placing a lot of stress on this mother. Society is almost breaking her.
Sadly, I could apply this post to more than one mother I know in this town alone. Be quick to lend a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on. But never judge another mothers parenting. You don't know the full story.