Educating one person at a time

Although this blog is from my perspective, I get lots of ideas from my husband Reuben.  And he definitely has inspired this blog.  He can be very inspirational. And for doing this, although I thought it impossible, he has managed to move up even higher on the Awesome Husband Meter.  Awesome Person Meter, actually.  He is always out-doing me, but that’s ok.

This story is being told second hand, and get this, Reuben didn’t even come home and tell me this.  I heard it from him at our Team Meeting. A Team Meeting is when we get together with our tutors from home program every two weeks and talk about Mateo. Talk about  how he’s doing at home and school, and what we need to work on together as a team.  Yes, it takes a team to raise a child with Autism, it really does, and if you don’t have a team please contact me because it’s made all of the difference for Mateo.

Ok, back to my story, well Reuben’s story.  Reuben was walking Mateo into school the other day and there were some Construction workers outside.  Mateo has had a real issue lately with grabbing himself in public.  Well not just in public, but constantly grabbing himself.  It’s another form of stemming, but the biggest problem with this stemming is nothing feels quite the same as grabbing yourself so it’s difficult to find alternatives. You all know what I am talking about, sorry I had to take the blog there, but most parents go through this with their kids.  And let me tell you, kids with Autism fixate, so imagine the battle we are having.   We use the term “Quiet Hands” to tell him to stop grabbing himself and try to redirect him to doing something else- that looks better in public.  Our ABA tutors even wrote a story for him on where it’s ok to grab yourself.  Mateo enthusiastically answered “YES!!!” when asked “Is it o.k. to grab yourself at school?”.  So you get the idea, this is a BIG challenge for us!

So the construction workers were outside of Mateo’s school and started cracking jokes about Mateo grabbing himself as he walked up to school.  If I was in Reuben’s shoes, I am not sure what I would do. I might just glare at them and give them the evil eye.  I would hope I would do what he did.  Which was take Mateo inside and come out and have a conversation with them.

I would also hope that I would keep my cool, and not sound like an over-protective  raging lunatic.  I would hope that I would just educate them just like Reuben did.  He walked up to them and explained to them that his son has Autism and that it’s not o.k. for them to make fun of someone like that.  They were embarrassed, not sure how to respond.  Reuben wasn’t sure if they even knew what Autism was.  But maybe they would look it up when they got home, or maybe they would think twice next time for making comments to a kid walking down the street.

I read another blog that was talking about how Autism is the “invisible disorder.”  It’s true, many disorders can be seen and most people will usually not say anything, but with Autism there aren’t apparent signs.  I can see the signs, I can often guess about kids with Autism and am usually right, but only because I have been exposed and educated to it.   Mateo has taught me how important it is to not pass judgment on people, to not make assumptions or jump to conclusions.  To live with compassion every day for people, but also to accept that we all make mistakes.  So maybe these construction workers learned something important, maybe Mateo and ultimately Reuben opened their eyes and taught them how to show a little more compassion next time. But  I don’t think I like the term “invisible” when referring to Autism.  I believe it needs to be more out in the open, that people need to talk about it, and Mateo should not hide because he is Autistic,  instead people need to accept him for all that he is!

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