Have you ever taken your child with autism to the supermarket and faced the stares and rude comments from other shoppers and sales assistants who see you as a parent who simply can’t control your child? And if this isn’t difficult enough to cope with you arrive at a family gathering or a get together with friends only to receive similar comments, or worse still, advice on ‘good parenting’ or behavior management techniques.
We have found moments like these are a real struggle.
We’re sure even the strongest of parents eventually start to feel the tap tap tapping away at their self confidence on occasions like these – especially when they happen regularly.
Developing strategies to help cope with well meaning family and friends (and even rude strangers) who have the ability to knock you over with one off-handed comment is really important. Below are some strategies that we have both tried ourselves and have had suggested to us by others. Whilst these strategies may not always work in every situation it’s worth giving them a go – after all, your self confidence and personal morale is at stake!
1. Develop a ‘line’. Have a response such as, “Thanks for your advice, but we are dealing with our child’s behaviour following advice from specialists / professionals. We appreciate you being understanding of our position.” Often this will deter any further comments on your parenting skills.
2. A strategy that has been suggested to us is to present interfering strangers and associates with a card that simply states “my child has autism / aspergers syndrome”. Other parents have found that people who are aware of the disorder generally move on without further comment, or become very apologetic. Even those who aren’t familiar with autism will usually look fairly embarrassed and move away – either because they don’t know what it means or because they have been taken to task on their inappropriate comments.
3. Prepare in advance for get togethers with family or friends. It is good to talk to people before the event about issues that you may be facing, and just how it is that you will be managing your childs behaviour. Even if you can speak to a couple of understanding people, you will at least feel supported and less anxious prior to the event.
4. Be confident in your approach with your child. If you are in a department store when your child decides to throw a tantrum, stand tall and deal with it just as you would normally (as if you were in your own home). If you need to take your child outside or away from anything that may be causing aggravation, then do so calmly and confidently. A parent who appears sure of themselves and confident in what they are doing is less likely to draw comment from onlookers. Yes, you will probably still attract some stares, and you may feel completely out of control yourself, but a parent who gives the impression of being in control will usually avoid unnecessary attention.
5. Above all, stay calm, relaxed, and smile – it’s amazing the effect this will have on any situation!
Elissa Plumridge is a mother of two children, her son having an autism spectrum disorder. She shares her views and advice on autism spectrum disorders, drawing from her experience as a mother of a child with an ASD and as a teacher. More information can be found on Elissa’s blog at [http://www.managingautism.com]
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Tagged as: Autism
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