May 20, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
Look, I try not to be overly sensitive but when you are the mother of a child with special needs, it’s tough to keep your Momma Bear Claws contained, you know? Actually, when you are a mom PERIOD I think it’s tough NOT to get bent out of shape when someone does or says something that could potentially injure your child.
Bugaboo is non-verbal. He isn’t deaf. Not being able to speak does NOT mean he has nothing to say. He just hasn’t found a way to SAY it yet. YET. Trust me when I tell you he is listening. Trust me when I tell you HE UNDERSTANDS WHAT YOU SAY. So do me a favor, people of the world, don’t insult him RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FACE.
Yesterday we hit up the local overpriced pharmacy (right near my mecca, the place that sells the best Pico de Gallo on the planet) since we had some errand to run and I always let Bugaboo get a snack. Yesterday he signed, “Candy. Drink.” So we went in, I let him get a bottle of water and pick out his m&ms. Then we got in line. And another woman got in line next to us (supposed to be behind but she was confused, even though there was ONE register open and people typically wait BEHIND the person that is next, but whatevs). Bugaboo was excited, making his little happy noises (but honestly? He was pretty quiet. Just chirping and bouncing, like usual). When it was just about our turn, he rushed forward and put his things on the counter. I called him back since we weren’t quite there yet. The woman “next to us but behind us in line” started commenting on him. She said, “That boy is O.O.C. Oh-Oh-C? Get it? OUT OF CONTROL.” Then she started prattling on about the way he was bouncing and making noise. Then she told him not to open his water or candy because, “Your mommy needs to PAY FOR THAT.” and she was really loud and embarrassing and my ears started to burn and I can’t remember what else she said but something about, “Being more patient” and possibly, “O.O.C” again. I don’t know because my face was burning hot at that point, my ears were ringing and that airplane engine noise was drowning everything out. When it was our turn, Bugaboo put his things on the counter, we paid and then turned to leave. SHE WAS STILL TALKING. I was trying soooo hard to get out of there and not be rude but OMFG SHUT UP, LADY! Everyone stared. I truly despise that. Then Bug Boy came in teh door and asked me to buy candy and started towards the line and I was all, “HELL NO. GET TO THE CAR.” and he was upset but I literally dragged them both out to get the heck out of there.
Seriously. What the heck is wrong with people? I mean, this was a younger woman. She might have been my age, give or take a few years. I would never, EVER make comments like that about another person’s child. I would never, EVER presume that someone’s kid was out of control. I really, really wish I remembered that I had a stack of, “This person is autistic and that’s why blah blah blah” cards with me. Bugaboo’s school gave them out, and although I don’t make it a practice to tell folks that he’s autistic (because I don’t go around telling people I have OCD and I’m bipolar and have suffered from Bulimia for twenty years although I no longer make myself puke) but JEEBUS woman! It would have been a great opportunity to school someone. Next time I’ll remember. Because what I really wanted to do was slap her. And ask her why her mother didn’t teach her better manners.
This is the reason why we have Autism Awareness month, folks. So that people UNDERSTAND and aren’t so ignorant and we ask them to be a little more understanding and patient and give my kid a chance to learn things that are very difficult for him to learn. Although I’m fairly certain people like her would remain ignorant anyways.