The Stares Over Stairs

by J

So, now that I am home with S during the day, I have decided to take him, each week, to the local library for story time. Since he is two now, today he attended the 2-5 class, rather than the 0-23 months class. He is a big kid now!

Today was the first day we attended at this particular library branch, and let me tell you *how excited* I was to enter the room and find not only a stage with a step, but a picture of a skateboard! (Can you sense my sarcasm?)

As soon as we walked in, S spotted the stage with the step and there was no hope for getting him back. Then, once he noticed the skateboard photo on the wall- he became totally wrapped up in the two. Once again, I was heartbroken. Here I sat, watching 20 other young children, and their guardians, enjoy the story time and my kid was walking up and down a single step like he was teaching a step-areobics class.

At first, I was just going to leave, as I didn’t see the point in staying. But, I then decided that we would stay and that I would do all of the things the teacher was doing and simply invite S to join in along the way. On a few occasions, he did engage with me- but mostly, he just played on the steps and pointed at the skateboard on the wall.

Now, had S been loud or in any other way disruptive, we would’ve left in a heartbeat. But, he was being quiet, occasionally clapped along with the teacher and kept to himself on the stair. It was about half way through that I noticed it…

Someone was staring.

Someone was staring… at my child… and either noticing that he is different or thinking I was a shitty parent that couldn’t control my kid. It was fucking heartbreaking.

You see, in the past, S’s autistic tendencies were not as noticeable to others since he was so young. Unless you were really familiar with autism, you would likely just think that he is serious, or shy. But now, now that he is older it is beginning to glare- just watch him for 5 minutes around a group of other children and you can tell that something is off.

Just then, S bolted out the door and the same lady, that was staring, gave me the “you need to learn to control your kid” look. I’m not going to lie, it was hard to keep my composure. I so badly just wanted to tell Mrs. McJudgey to worry about herself and then run off so that I could break down in tears.

Now, I understand that this encounter was rather small and to most, would seem insignificant. However, I took it as a taste of what’s to come.

People are going to judge and stare at my child.

Accepting this is like having to accept the diagnosis all over again. Not only will S have to work to overcome the communication issues that he has, thanks to autism, but he will have to learn to deal with the stares, the judgements and the uneducated perceptions people have of autism.

We ended up staying for the entire session. And, we will go again next week, and the week after. Each week, we will go, and sit on the step and give S the opportunity to participate with the other children.

I will sit on the stairs and learn to deal with the stares. And, I WILL do everything I can to give S the best start he can get- regardless of what others think.