Keep Your Hands Off My Child

Keep Your Hands Off My ChildYou’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:

  1. His medication needed adjustment and he had a medication appointment the next day.
  2. 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!

 

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  1. I am so sorry this happened to you. I think i would have done the same as you – I think we would all like to say we would go all mamma bear but at the same time I think he scared you as much as he did your son. I mean what do you really say. Its so hard to say what is right. I just cant wrap my head around him putting his hands on your kid 🙁 Im sorry

    • Right – exactly what you said. I’m kind of a timid person myself and I was a bit intimidated by the situation. I’m kind of in a place right now where I’m not sure if I’m ready to go back.

  2. I am so sorry this happened.

    Hitting to stop hitting is ridiculous. Of course, it doesn’t work!

    I really cannot believe that that man had the nerve to involve himself, especially in THAT way.

    You were there the whole time supporting your son the best way you could. I will say that sometimes when kids meltdown and the parents ignore it or are nowhere to be found that bothers me because it should not be on the coaches or volunteers at activities to get hit or have to deal with the issue, but you were there and handling it.

    I have a child with issues, too. In the past, she has said or done thing impulsively but like you, I was there and I was correcting it. When other people involve themselves even if they are trying to “help,” it honestly really pisses me off. I am there and I am disciplining my kid the way I do it. You have no idea what causes the behavior and you’re not trained in cognitive behaviorial therapy, so why do you think you have the right or know how to discipline my kid for how they are interacting with ME? It just really burns me up.

    Once a photographer that I was playing yelled at my daughter when she was 4 for fidgeting too much. I mean she YELLED and she roughly grabbed her to hold her still. I lost my mind when that happened. I actually got a manager and I put her in her place.

    Some people just have no idea and furthermore many people have no compassion!

  3. I don’t know why some people think they can “discipline” autism out of a child through intimidation when it’s just a form of child abuse. My very beautiful twin daughters are on the spectrum and they constantly amaze us everyday with their new milestones. I love your blog because it’s very supportive to our family and to know there are other families living with autism like us. Thank you Mama for your candid honesty. oXoX

    • Thank you!! I am always happy to run into other families going through what we are. I love my child. Sometimes it’s hard, but you know…it’s hard even with a typically-developing child. Kids are kids. I love both my children for the joy they bring into my life.