Splash pad

It’s hot in Texas, ridiculously hot. Sometimes the only relief I can offer my kids from the boredom of staying indoors is a trip to a park with a splash pad. It distracts them for a while and D has an especially good time being the water bug he is. That doesn’t mean I can let my guard down though.

On our last visit a little boy about five years old approached D. He wanted the toy my son had in his hand. D didn’t really have an interest in playing or sharing so he guarded his toy and kept running away from the boy. Frustrated, the boy told his mother that D had his toy. My anxiety went through the roof. How do I diffuse this situation and tell this boy’s mother he’s lying? Before I was able to stand up another mom spoke out and said, “No, that’s his toy. He’s been playing with it this whole time.”

Crisis averted. The mom that spoke up was cool, calm and collected. She had been watching also. Why had I not been able to muster up the same confidence as quickly as she did?

The kids continued to play and finally the little boy asked my son what his name was. D didn’t make eye contact and kept playing by himself, from the outside it looked like my son did not hear him but I knew he did. Again the boy approached, asked and did not get a response. After the fourth time he went and got his mother. If you have read my post When Other Moms Are Rude you’ll understand why I gave them their space. (Long story short: D and I were callously rejected at a park when I tried to explain he had autism and could not speak.)

She got down to her son’s eye level and told him to ask again nicely. At this point I got up and walked toward them. I told them his name and explained that he could not yet respond because he has autism. I wasn’t ready for the response I got though. Her jaw dropped and she said, “Oh! I’m so sorry! I had no idea!” I just said, “it’s ok” and walked back to my seat in the shade. Her response felt a bit much, at the most I expected an acknowledgment like “oh ok”. Instead I felt awkward because in her mind autism warranted over-sympathy. I really wanted to tell her that it’s just a word that means he learns differently than other children, but I didn’t.

Did I really have to?

When I see or meet other families with children on the spectrum I acknowledge them first with an understanding smile. It’s a silent camaraderie. If we happen to strike up a conversation – great! If not, it’s perfectly fine. We have our hands full as it is, worrying about having a coherent exchange is at the bottom of our list of priorities. We know our struggles are different but at the root of it all are our children, bound by the same diagnosis.

5 thoughts on “Splash pad

  1. Having my son on the spectrum too, you know I’ve been around these situations but never thought of having to let people know my son has autism. I mean granted my son has his siblings to play with where this doesn’t happen often. But I think it’s so interesting to see the parenting styles with other moms with children on the spectrum. Why I don’t say it, I’m not sure. I feel maybe it’s too much, or it’s none of their business, why should they know type of situation. I mean, since my sons diagnosis I have shared the results with his former teachers and people of that nature, my family, close relatives. But, not someone at a park. Thank you for sharing this! It always helps to know what other moms are doing with children like my son with autism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have it seen it both ways. I try not to disclose unless I feel it will better the situation and while that’s not always the case at least I’ve raised awareness by one person. D is on the mild/moderate end of the spectrum, it is severe enough for him to require special accommodations at school and greatly limits his speech. He is only 3 but looks like he’s between 5 or 6 so when he’s approached and he doesn’t respond you can see the wheels spinning in people’s heads. My greatest aversion, however, is calling Baby A “normal” or “neurotypical”. For me, it somehow implies that my son is not normal or “neurodeficient”, which we know is not true.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s my sons case also. He’s mild. We are fortunate to live close to a school that accommodates his needs. Although his OT ended last year, he continues his speech as it’s really needed. He’s speaks as though he’s maybe a year or two younger than he’s actual age. Yes, often times I’m guilty of it myself. Where’s I’ll compare my son to his younger brother that’s 6 years old – him being 8, and say the 6 year old is ‘normal’ and growing ‘normal.’ There is no such thing as normal – we’re all unique in our own ways, especially our children. Such a great topic to highlight!

        Liked by 1 person

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