I can’t defend my kids
I’ve seen the stories, some stranger makes a rude comment about a person’s child behaving in a way they don’t like only for the parent to turn around and give them a piece of their mind.
‘My child is Autistic, he can’t help it’ ‘He’s disabled’ ‘She has sensory processing disorder, she’s overwhelmed by the noise, educate yourself’
I feel so happy to hear parents, and even friends and siblings, defending SEND and disabled people. Those are people who care, people who aren’t afraid to stand up and say what’s what.
But they make me feel a little bit sad inside.
I can’t do that. I can’t defend my kids.
It’s not that I don’t want to. God, I so want to. If anyone were to insult my kids because of their differences/disabilities I would love to fight tooth and nail to protect them. Physically I’m sure I could, if it came to that. But verbally…
I’m Autistic, I’m a PDAer. I also have emotional lability and selective mutism. I call myself a coward but that’s not really fair. What I am is verbally challenged.
See, if someone were to say ‘you need to get some control over your children’, I would be angry, I would be seething. Especially if they were mid meltdown/panic attack and truly had no control over their behaviour. I would want to turn around and say ‘actually they are Autistic and are struggling to manage their emotions at the moment. They aren’t being naughty and they don’t need someone uneducated telling me what I should be doing’. I would love to say that.
What do I actually do? I cry. I shutdown. I become mute and cannot talk until I am in a safe place and have some control over my emotions.
I hate it.
I might, if I’m lucky, manage the words ‘actually they are Autistic…’, but that’s as far as I’d be able to get. Trust me, I know from experience. I cry saying those words to a doctor who knows. I cry trying to advocate for myself. I have to write down everything I want to say whenever I go to appointments because I know I’ll cry and shutdown and go selectively mute, so I just show them the piece of paper. So in an incident where I’m angry, where I’m furious, where I’m scared…
There’s also the added bonus of auditory processing disorder (APD). I’ll always remember the time I was parting from friends after seeing them, someone we knew, a man, made a comment and I reacted by laughing (because he was smiling), I automatically nodded along, then I waved goodbye to my friends who, looking back, were frowning, and I walked off. It was as I got outside my jumbled brain managed to figure out what that man had said and the anger quickly set in. What he’d said had been sexist. My brain, thanks to APD, takes minutes longer than most people’s to understand what I’ve heard. I’ve learnt to react to people’s body language (which I’m obviously not great at) before what they’ve said. It’s not the first time I’ve reacted wrong. And yes I should have gone back in and challenged him, but the tears were already starting, I’d already started shutting down. I wouldn’t have been able to speak even if I’d wanted to.
Oh, and when I feel angry or flustered and am able to speak, what comes out is garbled nonsense. Half words and noise, basically.
I wish I could defend my kids, I wish I had the verbal ability to do so. Instead I end up angry and ashamed at myself and my inability to do something that seems so easy for other people. I know if they were to challenge my parenting or my kids abilities online or by writing I would easily be able to respond. That doesn’t really transfer to real life though. No one who insults my kids will stick around long enough for me to write out a reply on paper, let alone read it.
I’ve been lucky so far in that no one has really challenged me and my children. I hope no one ever does. I don’t want to be seen as a mother who won’t stand up for her children. I would rather cry and garble nonsense first. It’s just something that I cannot accurately do. I hate it, but it’s the way I am. I just hope my kids never have to find that out.