Conor, Jack and I went to one of those jump houses (lot’s of blow up things to jump and slide on for those of you out of the loop). I won’t name names as we like going to this one a lot and have always had fun and support even when Conor is having one of his bad “autism” days. So, we are there at a time it is not too busy, and Conor goes and jumps on one of the “under 3 year old” inflatables. Now, I know that he shouldn’t have done that, but there were no kids in the place younger than 3, and all the other kids of varying ages above 3 were in it at one point or another and no one was upset about the situation. Except the older woman who is an employee who very randomly, and seldomly, walked around shouting at the kids not to run, get off this or that, etc.. She really had a calling as a drill sergeant if she hadn’t already been one. She even had the haircut. Of course, Conor is alone on the under 3 yr jumpy house on one of her rare walk-throughs when she sees him and starts yelling at him to get out, as he is clearly over 3. He ignores her and continues jumping. I had been watching and rushed over to take him out when she gets even more upset at him and yells more loudly (and not so nicely) for him to get out. She was incensed that he was ignoring her. I called to Conor, and she told me he wasn’t listening and was going to be asked to leave. I had to throw out the “A-bomb” at that point and told her he’s autistic and can’t talk much, not to mention couldn’t hear above the screams of the other kids and the noise the inflatable things make. She immediately apologised and said that there were a lot of kids with autism that came to the place. I don’t what she was trying to convey to me at that point. I felt if she had been around all these other kids with autism that maybe she should give the benefit of the doubt to a child who is not responding appropriatley.
Conor got out of the jumpy thing when I asked and went to find something else to play on. The woman followed me briefly saying that there really were a lot of kids with autism who go there and I just said that I had to keep an eye on him so that he didn’t break any rules. Meanwhile, the under 3yr jumpy house filled up with clearly over 6yr olds as we spoke.
So, I don’t know how or if she will remember that incident, but I hope she does. Parents with kids of different abilities remember them. And, just because a child doesn’t look like he has any issues doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t. It’s difficult to have a child so cute (my own bias there) and then have people project certain behaviours that he should accomodate, and when he doesn’t, blame goes to him and to the parent. I suppose sometimes that is true. But sometimes folks should take a step back and consider there is more going on than just bad parenting or bad behaviour.
Needless to say, I hope the woman who yelled at Conor (ugh! still hurts) woke up in the morning and thought about the situation. If it was no more than a flitting moment in her life with nothing gained, than that’s sad and a missed opportunity on her part. A goal for everyone should be to have a little understanding for those you don’t understand.