If my seven-year-old Moderately Autistic son were better at expressing himself, assuming he could think like I did, I’m pretty sure he would be one of the first to tell you being Autistic is not for the faint of heart.
When you’re Autistic, you care about, and pay attention to, things those around you who aren’t in the club seem to all but totally ignore. You see others playing together, and they seem largely (not totally of course) to be on the same page. “Let’s play tag!” or “Let’s play a game of hide-and-seek!” They say, and because there’s nobody around like you, and frankly, you crave playtime with people close to your age, you try very hard to live in the other kids’ worlds.
You secretly hope they’ll take the time to try to understand and live in yours, but you’re not holding out hope, because but for a brief few moments now and then, that never happens.
I could go on talking about this, but since what I’m trying to do is set the stage for another discussion, let me do the tie-in.
The young man I just described to you, spends far too much time angry and frustrated. He wants to play with his “peers.” He desperately desires to be happy and carefree. He seeks to find others who’re like him, rather than having to come to live in the heads of the ones with whom he ends up dealing.
What makes that the much harder is, even among his actual peers, he only has a home to the degree they’re “different” because they too, march to the beat of their own drum. Autistic people are different from “normal” people, but as a rule, they’re also not remotely the same as each other.
This makes for a child who, if left to his own devices with other young ones, is prone to lash out. He gets angry and upset that others don’t understand him. He gets teased in the same way one child teases other children and doesn’t understand it, and as a result, he becomes upset, angry, defensive and potentially violent.
It’s for this reason that daddy must take special pains with his son.
Firstly, he must watch him carefully and correct his “bad responses.” He tries to intermingle times of comparatively little supervision, with the more intense observation. Mostly that means, when nobody’s around, he doesn’t watch as carefully.
He must act as a “supporting character,” so that his charge doesn’t feel totally alone when dealing with folks who mostly just don’t get him.
He has to talk about unacceptable behaviors. It’s his job to remove excuses for bad actions and attitudes on the child’s part.
About now, you may be questioning whether this should really be an article on Autism, and I’m not going to tell you there’s not a small amount of truth to that perspective to this point. That said, here’s where we diverge.
What I just did, was laid out before you, a strong excuse for someone to act in improper ways. I told you that my son being Moderately Autistic, means that he tends to become angry and frustrated, and the seeming implication you might take away is, it’s okay for him to act badly as a result.
Were it not for the remedial action I cited earlier, you might also wrongly assume I’m trying to make the case that he was incited to act violently or otherwise unreasonably by those individuals who treat him in ways they would normally treat others. After all, they aren’t working to understand my son, they’re just assuming he’s sufficiently similar to everyone else that they can behave towards him as they would typically act towards anyone.
If you thought that’s what I was trying to say though, you’d be mistaken. My boy may technically be a “victim” in this little essay, but the truth is, it’s just not reasonable to assume the rest of the world should have to tailor their approach to life, to the differences he presents.
By the way, if I did take this approach to life, when he hurt others, I might say something like, “It was his or her fault for not trying to understand my son.”
This sounds logical, but it’s just not. The fact that the other involved party likely did nothing out of the ordinary only to find him or her self set upon by my child, doesn’t mean I can blame the victim, and contend they should’ve worked to understand my offspring.
As a parent of this wonderful, special child, it’s my job to bring him to a place where he can deal with the world largely on their terms; all the while keeping what’s unique, amazing and awesome, alive and well in him. It’s not the job of the rest of the universe to adjust or adapt to him. I’m not saying here, that people can’t or shouldn’t try to come to understand and work with my kid; just that this is not something I can or do expect.
If it’s true I won’t accept my quirky not-so-small Moderately Autistic son acting badly when dealing with others, then blaming the others for not working with him on his terms, you can be certain I won’t conclude similar things apply to folks who don’t have his built-in excuse.
When even a scantily clad or naked young woman is raped, I’m not going to agree she was at fault; even when her actions may not have been the most prudent. No, it was the rapist who bears the blame.
When someone makes another angry, and the other pulls out a gun and shoots them, where the fact that the first caused the second to be irate may be relevant, it doesn’t make it so the shooter stands blameless for his or her actions.
The long and short of this is, we need to stop blaming the victims of various forms of malevolent activity, rather than the one doing the harm. I get that things the wronged one may have done and said might’ve contributed to or more correctly, detracted from the situation, but that’s not a reason to blame them for the evil visited upon them.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.