xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: "All Kids Do That" Part 5: Explaining what it's like

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"All Kids Do That" Part 5: Explaining what it's like

See the tab above for more information about this series.

I didn't really know what to call this one because it doesn't address a specific topic, but it does do a great job in explaining the purpose of what we're doing here with this series. (Just in case you don't know, "NT" is short for Neurotypical.)

I've been running these on Wednesdays and Sundays but I'm doing this one out of order today because tomorrow I'll be dark to protest SOPA.

So! Today's post is from Carrie who blogs at Pooping Red Guy & Friends

For me, a lot of this comes down to what's developmentally and age appropriate. Sure, my kid may throw horrific tantrums like NT kids, but the truths those NT kids who are throwing horrific tantrums are toddlers, NOT ten year olds. That's just one example...

Autism is NT behavior with a thousand times the intensity. NT parents may joke that losing a favorite toy is the end of the world, but it's not really. A thirty minute crying jag might even be considered excessive for NT kid. You console the NT kid, give hugs, reframe the loss, no one gets hurt. For a kid with autism a thirty minute crying jag is minimal and often a victory in using coping skills if its just tears. Yet, it's rarely just crying. It's life-will-never-be-the-same, soul crushing agony mixed with bouts of rage because the kid feels unheard and unable to express the loss to anyone. When an autism parent says its the end of the world, it's literal. It is the end of the world for their child. Life cannot move on and you cannot console your child into happiness again. Life stops and that issue becomes your whole day.

NT parents see our hashtag and think we are making light of parenting tribulations with hyperbole. We aren't using hyperbole. We are talking about our reality without exaggeration. Without embellishment to make it funny or humorous. We are telling true stories about our lives as parents. When reading the tag, many NT parents don't realize that posts are about kids from all age groups, even young adults. They don't understand we are stating our reality and the reality of our children. They think we are doing the NT dramatization that occurs with NT parents when talking about their children to make light of common parenting problems.

When NT parents say "that's all kids" they might as well say "autism isn't real". Instead of listening to learn something about autism, they close their minds and open their mouths. They don't want to believe or can't believe that what we are saying is no exaggeration. It's not hyperbole. It's honest to goodness truth about our daily lives. It doesn't match what they learned on television, either. It sounds hard and terrible. People get squeamish. Perhaps they recognize there own struggles in our words then maybe there kids are 'different'... maybe their kids are autistic. That's a scary thought for any parent. If it's our kids who truly aren't different, but merely badly behaved, then they can cross that worry off their list. There's no chance of the having a kid with autism. Perhaps they think special needs parents are just looking for attention. I don't know the reasoning for sure.

Whatever it is, there is a hang up of some kind out there about autism that makes NT parents say "it's not autism, it's all kids". We know in our core of as parents of kids with autism that hearing "that's all kids" hurts our kids. We may not be able to articulate it, but our internal warning sirens sound the alarm so that the statement doesn't sit well at all. It devalues the tag, for whatever reason, and we all know it. Maybe because we parents and our kids have to work a thousand times harder than our respective NT counterparts. Saying "it's all kids" throws the validation of our plight, fears, concerns and victories out the window.