Saturday, July 14, 2007

No More Criticism, Please!!!!

After this blog, I promise not to be negative for a while. I have just had one too many negative experiences with people who either criticize me or give me really rude parenting advice. Some of this comes from strangers, other from friends (actually just one friend in particular, which I guess goes to show she isn't much of a friend). You may be thinking, "Well, maybe you NEED this advice if so many people out there see fit to offer it." I am not saying I couldn't benefit from some decent advice, but the snarky comments I can do without.

The thing is, these people don't know that I have a very special little boy, who happens to suffer from Sensory Integration Disorder, which means that he has trouble processing sensory stimuli. All the stimuli we take for granted (the humming of the computer, the breeze on your face, even the lighting) can affect these kids in unusual and unpleasant ways. And because these kids look "normal" other people judge their behavior and often assume it has something to do with the parents.

I am so utterly sick of people just assuming I am a crappy parent because my son has difficulty hearing organ music at church. Or because he can't handle having other kids touching him all the time. Or because occasionally he throws these incredible tantrums in public because he isn't handling transitions well. I see the dirty looks and hear the critical comments want to scream or cry or curse them out depending on my mood that day. Because despite what they may think, this is not an issue of poor discipline.

They truly have no idea what a day in my life is like. I have a kid who I can never take to Krogers because it totally throws him off--we think it may be the lighting. I have to plan in ways that other parents don't. If we are planning to leave somewhere fun, I need to start warning him about an hour in advance. Did I mention he does not do transitions well? I need to bring his blue blanket to chew on in stressful situations. (Yes, he chews on it. The pressure to his jaws actually calms him immeasurably.) I have to monitor him closely around big groups of children because when he gets excited, he sometimes crashes into them in an effort to satisfy his craving for deep pressure. You can't imagine the things I have to do to help him behave in Primary. It is actually pretty exhausting sometimes. Activities that are normal for many preschoolers (going to the zoo, a restaurant, a birthday party) are often fraught with potential sensory landmines. My husband and I plan carefully so we can help him make it through these activities. And then there are so many others that we simply do not attend because it would be too much for Danny--and us.

For people who take the time to get to know Danny, they will see that he is the most exuberant child around. His smile literally lights up his face. Danny is so full of energy that his nickname is "Danimal." He loves making people laugh and he adores playing with other kids. He loves life and is basically like every other kids. The only difference is that some things come a lot harder for him, and the last thing he needs is people's judgements!


Amy Jane said...

Well said, dear. You tell 'em! It's funny - I'm not in any way comparing my struggles to yours, but I had sort of a "Patty moment" the other day at the park when Nick was throwing himself bodily into a puddle, and I just gave in and let him enjoy himself. I felt lots of judgement from the moms around me, but I decided "Screw it!" :)

beckbot said...

I've been reading "Born on a Blue Day" written by a man with high-functioning Asberger's syndrome. He shares some of Danny's aversions (unpleasant noise, textures, lighting, even certain numbers) and as an adult he must plan for himself in the same way you do for Danny. It's so illuminating to read books like that; gives you a different perspective on the people around you. I was in line for donuts (I know, great choice of snack) the other day and this little girl kept petting my corduroy pants. Her mom was going nuts trying to keep her away from me. I just kept saying, "Really, it's ok!" All the while I was thinking of a chapter in this book by Oliver Sacks about Tourette's syndrome. "Touretters" have many strong urges, one of which is to touch certain textures over and over. Maybe that's what was going on that day (or maybe my burgundy cords are just irresistible!