April 01, 2010

I'm Still Waiting for Someone to say "APRIL FOOLS!"

 It's Thursday, and time for Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop. The prompt I chose this week?

“Let he who hath no sin cast the first stone…” Is there anything you have judged prematurely, only to find yourself walking in the same shoes later?
(inspired by Stephanie from This Blessed Life)

Before I had The Boy, and was a much younger, more arrogant me, I know I gave "the look" to parents if their children were misbehaving in the store. You know the look I mean - the one that radiates disapproval, and the opinion that what the kid needs is a good swat.

Guilty as charged. Now let's talk about life today.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Anyone who reads my blog knows that The Boy has an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis (as well as Bipolar Disorder) - the daily double, if you will.

In an effort to explain what it's like when you hear AUTISTIC as a label for your child, I am re-posting something I did when I had maybe six two followers.

The challenges I describe still stand true today. Lucky for us, The Boy is a pretty smart cookie, and he's beginning to learn how to navigate life a bit better with his differences.

Here 'tis.

Welcome to Holland

Emily Perl Kingsley wrote a lovely piece about raising a child with a disability, where she compares it to being in Holland. Please check it out here.

Here's my take on our extended visit to our little neck of the woods here in Holland:

Life is an adventure; no two days are alike. The weather is very changeable - sometimes, it is more stormy and inclement inside than out; other days, the sun streaming into the windows makes us all feel sunnier. Medication usually helps - but it constantly needs adjusting as he grows. Other times, he is so out of control, that he must be admitted to the hospital for more intensive intervention and medication management. Or maybe he gets arrested and put into detention.

One of the toughest things about Holland is that the foreigners (non-disabled children and adults) often don't understand that the boy has problems upon looking at him. He looks "normal", from the outset. It's only after you hang out with him a while, or happen to hear and see him in the middle of a meltdown, that you realize that something is just not right about the kid. He may be loud, he may be having a profanity-laced outburst, or he may be crying. He may have a weird look on his face, or be reacting in a dramatic fashion, or maybe he's laughing...a little too loudly. He sometimes gives unsolicited advice to parents. He insults adults. Ya just never know.

Oh, we get the looks. I see them. The disapproval stamped all over the grownups' faces - I can hear their inner voice, "If that were my kid...". Yeah, lady, I hear ya. Sometimes I'd like to crawl into one of those cartoon portable holes when he embarrasses me in public. One day in Sears, he asked a woman "how God could make someone as fat and ugly as you". Ouch. I apologize...often. He's told store clerks that I am not his mother, that I am crazy, that he's eighteen and should be able to buy a lottery ticket (I think he was 6 at the time). Children shrink from him, or stare and point, or laugh at him. He is teased and taunted.

There are no invitations to birthday parties being sent home in backpacks; in fact, there are no friends at all.

Sometimes, he really tries to be "normal" (whatever that is), and sometimes he succeeds. Some attempts at conversation are less than stellar, his behavior is difficult. It's all part of the autistic, bipolar adolescent package here.

I see the looks, I hear the whispers, I sense the judgment...and I remember each and every slight. It hurts. After the sting is gone, I pray that those folks never have to live in Holland like we do...they couldn't take it. And it's a shame, the tulips are quite breathtaking, and the windmills are out of this world!

Despite all the challenges we've faced, and those we will face in the future, I still like the kid...a lot. And I think these foreigners might too, if they gave him a chance. He's an acquired taste. I mean, not everyone likes Dutch Mansaka (Dutch hamburger casserole) the first time they try it, either.

Friday, April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day. Wear something blue in support of Autism awareness!


  1. What a great post, will definitely make me consider outside circumstances that I may not know about and stop any sort of ideas I may have in my head of "If that were my kid"

  2. This post def. makes you think! Sorry things are so hard for your little one and I hope he cane better cope with it as he gets older. BEFORE i had my own child i was guilty of the "look" too but now I sympathize b/c u never know what the family is dealing with

  3. Yep, I used to be a "judger."

    Nope, not so much anymore.

    I really did have all the answers once upon a time.

    Sigh. Those were naive days, weren't they?

  4. Glad you re-posted ... as for judging, for the most part it's something I don't do that much anymore- mostly becuase I've been through so many crazy things myself and I ge twhat it's like to have a bad day ;-)

  5. I'm also guilty of being someone who gave the "look" before having my own child. These days, I sympathize more than judge since I have days too where I can feel people giving me the "look".

  6. What a great post! And I agree with the comment you left on my blog - there is no age gap with bloggers!

  7. Wow. My son also has apergers (diagnosed in Nov.) I'm still learning the 'new' way to parent with all the challenges and the rewards that my sweet boy comes with.

  8. I admit, I used to be the judgmental girl. Before I had kids and before I understood that parents cannot (no matter how hard we try) control every move our children make. Your job is just that much harder than most moms.

  9. I forgot today was April Fool's Day! I'm less judgemental than I was in my twenty's or thirty's but probably still something I need to work on.

  10. That was so touching. And no April Fool's from me. I don't play on this day :)

  11. Great post.
    If you want April Fool's, try my post out today...

  12. Thanks for this post! My son (9) scored a 29.5 on the 'autism scale' and the Dr. thinks his issues are more of OCD/panic disorder, but I think the hardest part (for me) is seeing previous friends stay away, and my son asking me why.

  13. Wow, that was truly an amazing post. I thoroughly admire you. My 5 year old daughter has a mood disorder and life has been singularly challenging and I also would often like to have a cartoon black hole to disappear into (love that!). I send you my prayers.

    Stopping by from MamaKat's.

  14. Parenting is a tough job and it takes special people to deal with autistic children. More people really need to understand the challenges parents face.

    Visiting from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

  15. Hi - I saw your blog name from Mama Kat and had to visit. I do love the name.

    I was really touched by what you wrote. I wonder if you have read 101 Bird Tales (it's a small blogging world) whose son also has Asperger's. We follow each other's blog and she's on my sidebar.

    It breaks my heart that people look askance that don't understand. It's hard enough to be a parent.


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!