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different reactions January 18, 2010

Posted by caizooka in autism parenting.
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Here is the article that I’ll be referring to:

8 year old boy taken to juvenile detention for tantrum

My mom sent me this article. The article itself is not as eventful as the comments. I am saddened to think that there are so many people think that you could judge this situation from this article. They are willing to send this mom to jail and throw away the key for bad parenting. There is no indication of why this boy was so upset.

Before our autism diagnosis, I probably would have said, ‘the parents might need to set more clear boundaries’. I for sure would have been more judgmental. After what we have endured in the past couple of years with O, my heart bleeds for this mom and child. You just don’t know what kind of trigger set off this reaction. So easy to dismiss this as a case of bad parenting. Kid just needs a spanking. So many comments like this in the article. Yes, perhaps it was a case of this. But, for a child to behave on such a level tells me that there is something else going on. We, as spectators, as their community, need not stand there and criticize as much as we need to try and understand. Not just tolerate, but learn how to be tolerable of and have empathy for. There seem to be several definitions of tolerance.

1. capacity to endure pain or hardship  2. sympathy for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own  3. the act of allowing something  4. the allowable deviation from a standard  5. the capacity of the body to endure a substance or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure 6. relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor

It’s interesting after reading the definition of tolerance, re-reading the article, and then re-reading the comments. It makes me think that we are not all on the same page here and more than that, some people aren’t even trying to be any definition of tolerant or compassionate. They are being downright, intentionally intolerant. They have ZERO tolerance.

Thinking back on our trip to the ER in the spring…we (my husband and I) could NOT get O to calm down. We now know that what we were dealing with was an autistic tantrum. At the time it was a screaming, crying, yelling, kicking, getting out of his car seat, trying to get out of the car, 3 year old who was having a 7 hour tantrum. It was scary. We were both so upset. Peter came home from work. Nothing worked so we took him to the ER because we figured there must be something that is medically compromising him to act like this. There was nothing. There were more of these tantrums to follow and I know that we will have more in the future. I only hope and pray that the type of individual that could be so quick to judge is not in my path when I’m trying to calm my son down. I might have to explain what tolerance really means to them.

I’m still working on my own definition of what tolerance is. Being a mom of multi-racial children and being raised bi-racial in a time when there weren’t that many of us gives me a different history and a different perspective on the matter. Being a mom of an autistic child even furthers my capacity of tolerance and trying to understand what tolerance means in a world where tolerance and intolerance seem not to be too different when you’re combatting something you’ve never thought that you’d combat, and are also looking for tolerance and some compassion in those around you. I know that many, many people endure many, many hardships. We ALL need to be more tolerant and less quick to judge, and more willing to ask, ‘are you okay?’ or ‘how can I help?’.

I go back to what my dad told me a lot growing up, ‘Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes’. Wise words.

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