Dear Outsider Looking In,
You don’t know me. You really don’t know my daughter either. We’ve only lived here for almost 2 years and you’ve never taken the time to talk to us about your “concerns” with our daughter and your daughter and their friendship. The one time we talked to you, we explained Em had autism. There was a brief conversation over the basics and there hasn’t been a conversation between us since.
Yet, your daughter suddenly goes in streaks with being allowed to play with Em. The rational is Em is too loud. She talks too much. She’s too needy. She has an attitude. She’s rude. And that’s just the ones I hear. See your daughter feels so bad that she can’t interact with Em that she tells her everything you have said.
Em has been known to come home after those conversations upset. She struggles to process what’s been said to her. She doesn’t even tell us admit right away what is going on. She sits, pondering, alone on the verge of tears. She will then ask us if she’s too loud, talks too much, too needy, has an attitude or rude. Considering that this child once would not tell us what’s going on, there is progress there for her. Yet, as a whole, leaves me in awe of an adult’s position to make someone half their size and old enough to know better to create a situation where we gossip about little ones we know have “issues”.
How would you feel if your daughter came home and asked you these questions? How would you feel if you knew the answer had already been given to the person saying it and they continue to turn a cold hearted blind eye? You’d be hurt. Not personally but hurting for your daughter who probably doesn’t have a lot of friends, if she were like Em.
See, if you took time to get to know Em and get informed on what having autism means, you’d understand. If you came to talk to us, we’d have explained why it seems that way. You see, Em doesn’t always realize just how loud she is. If you ask her to talk quieter she may or may not. It depends on if she realizes it. Even pointing it out won’t make it better necessarily. Em talks a lot. That’s true. She wants to share and connect with people. I know it’s overwhelming, especially when she fixates on one subject and it’s nonstop.
I’m sure she seems needy. She wants so desperately to be accepted that she clings to whoever shows her kindness. That’s an attribute to your daughter, showing Em some kindness when she was struggling to connect with kids her age. And I’m sure that what seems like an “attitude” problem is often her inability to process immediately what is going on around her. She struggles to show her emotions when stuff goes on around her. So my child being rude is probably more about her trying to not meltdown and process what is going on around her.
I won’t say that’s the answer to everything 100% of the time. However, I wish if you really had those concerns, you’d come to me instead of venting in front of or to your daughter who takes it to mine. I can work through things with people if they are open to conversation and learning that their views may be wrong or they have a deep misunderstanding of the situation. I can’t do that if someone would rather not.
So there you sit. On the outside, looking in, and judging what you don’t know or understand. Things could be different. You could be engaging and understanding a child. I know a lot of kids around these girls who have these traits who aren’t like Em. Yet, you seem to only allow your daughter to play with them. Like Em is contagious. Autism isn’t contagious dear.
Autism just means Em is different. And those around her need to understand as such. And for the record, she doesn’t get away with anything. There are consequences for her actions. She doesn’t get to use her autism as an excuse. Just a way to explain to those around her why she may be the way she is. She is trying to educate people that she is just like many of them, wanting the same things and hurt by the same things.
I won’t apologize for my daughter. I won’t apologize for my outrage. I will however apologize for your trouble in understanding. I deal with a lot of people out there who need to be better informed. I’m used to the window watchers and judgers. Until you have walked a mile in my shoes with my daughter or walked in her shoes with comprehending life around her, step back. You are in no position to judge us.
Every Mom in This Situation
And Me, Em’s Mom