There may be more to it.

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Most of the time to look at him you would never know. His quirky traits are playful parts of his personality. He is only three. He is boisterous, fast and loud, and can woo you with his infectious smile. When he smiles, when he sees you, you immediately feel better about everything. This same three year old can in an instant bring you to an immense feeling of hopelessness.  Meltdowns would  seem to the untrained eye, a temper tantrum, a child clearly out of control, manipulating parents with learnt loud, aggressive and unacceptable behaviour; clearly a spoilt child in need of some serious parental discipline. It would appear to the observer that the parent is too complacent, too submissive in their response to this confronting public display. It doesn’t seem to matter if on looker’s refrain from voicing their  discontent, standing by with their well behaved children. In that moment they are the better parent. The judgment is always felt. Rarely are sympathetic, compassionate smiles of kinship offered. Even without the underpinning of autism, as parents we have all been there. When was it that we began to judge each other so harshly? When did we become unsympathetic towards each other in these moments? Where is the heartfelt understanding amongst mothers that says ‘it’s alright, I’ve been there too, actually it was only just this morning.’ I have found these moments to be the hardest on older siblings. They are all too aware of judging on lookers. They have mixed emotions, they know what is needed in this moment for their loved one. They have seen it many times, they are familiar and unconcerned when it is in the comfort of their home. Five minutes may as well be five hours. They feel his torment and carry the guilt of their own torment of silently wanting to step away; I understand. Explanation of peoples reactions is always necessary after any public outburst. I remind them every time that it doesn’t matter what people are thinking about us, or about our actions or lack thereof. All that ever matters is how we respond towards our Boo. For we understand and know him better than anyone else. I can only hope that the lesson my children are learning here might be that when they go about their lives and find themselves witnesses to yet another story, that judgment won’t be their first impression and that they will remember to feel compassion. Maybe even offer a reassuring smile to show that they too know this story only too well and understand.

 

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