You’ve heard of fight or flight response, right? But no one tells you about the moment when you’re completely frozen in time and cannot move because you have no idea how to react at all. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to do. Recently, I got stuck in this moment of time where I didn’t know whether to punch someone in the face, scream at them, or let the moment pass, and before I knew it, the moment had passed and in the aftermath, I simply picked up the pieces and moved on. Instead of screaming out, “Keep your hands off my child,” I watched it all happen, but I’ve learned from the experience.
You see, my son has Autism. He behaves differently than most children when presented with overstimulating scenarios or when his routine gets thrown off. People often attribute his behavior to him just acting like a naughty child. Most people don’t know my son has Autism and even if they did, they wouldn’t have a clue about what that means. They wouldn’t have the faintest notion what we’ve been through, what disciplinary methods we’ve tried already, and that we have consulted with tons of professionals on how best to treat our child.
On this particular day, my son hit me off and on in intervals at karate. His behavior was far from severe, though. Of course, an outsider looking in wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what severe looks like in my house. If I’m able to calm him down within 5-10 seconds, we’re good. I could do that. We had it pretty good. Outsiders looking in had no idea of the following facts:
- His medication needed adjustment and he had a medication appointment the next day.
- His day had been thrown off because his teacher didn’t let me know up front that his schedule was changing that day and that’s kind of a big deal for children like him.
I would’ve chosen not to take him to karate, but he had taken a hiatus from karate before and we had just gone back. We have to establish consistency again. So I took him. He wound up sitting out partway through the class, then getting sent out. When it was time to put shoes on, he started to hit me, and that’s when it happened…
This man came to offer assistance. He wore an EMS shirt, so I really didn’t think much of it when he picked up my son. I thought perhaps he had some training with children and that he might help stabilize the situation, but what he said to my child shocked me. I’ll never forget it. He said, “Do you what would happen in my house if you hit your mother? You’d get hit back twice as hard! Now you sit here until you calm down!” I could see the terror and panic in his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to get away from this man. This man who basically threatened to beat him. Seconds later, he made a break for it, plummeting full-force into my arms, crying. He did not heed the man’s words to come back and sit down, nor did I make him. I told him it was time to go, and to get his shoes and socks on. He complied, but still did some hitting off and on. I wish I could say that I had said something in defense of my child, but I hadn’t. I simply got him ready to go. I had him apologize to his karate instructors and we left.
You see, my son apologizes for his mistakes. I don’t need to hit him and, from this point forward, I will not have anyone else intervene on my behalf, even if they look well-meaning. Hands off, people. I got this. I know what works, but it takes time to calm him. I wish more people would understand. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world of understanding. Maybe one day I will safely take him out and people won’t stare or give their “helpful” advice. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t run into people like that man, who threaten and intimidate my child, thinking their brute force will cause him to become more obedient.
Until then, I suppose to just have to deal with intolerance.
Or maybe I can just create a flyer to hand out to every person who looks at my son like he’s a horrible child. Do you think they’d read it?
Making sure my child feels secure is a big part of my life. Iron security has options for keeping the whole family safe. This blog entry has been edited and re-posted in order to enter a scholarship essay contest that Iron Security hosts. Thanks for the opportunity!