I was spoiling myself last week, I got a massage. An hour, laying on a warm soft surface (not a hardwood floor while working with my son), hearing nothing but tranquil music (not a screaming child or feet pounding that hardwood floor), smelling fragrant candles (not gold-fish cracker breath), and having someone rub all the stress out of my tired, sore muscles (not straining them by picking up a child who needs held), it was nice. I LOVE my kids and wish for nothing else, well except for an hour break where I can breathe and not worry about ANYTHING except if I missed a spot while shaving.
While getting this massage, the masseuse (we’ll call her Megan) and I chatted. She knew my son has Autism and she brought it up last week during this massage session. She asked if he talks. I said, “No. Well, he makes sounds, and can repeat occasional words, but no, he doesn’t use words to communicate his needs.” She replied, “My son won’t stop jabbering, sometimes I wish he didn’t talk.”
Yikes. I honestly don’t think she knew what she was saying, or rather, who she was saying it to. She had no idea what my son goes through every minute of his life when he can’t tell us what he wants, needs, or wishes. She doesn’t see him biting his hands or any skin he can reach so that it turns black and blue because he’s so frustrated he can’t get the words out. She doesn’t see him shaking with rage because he can’t tell us what he wants. She doesn’t see the other side of communication breakdown which is comprehension. She doesn’t see him crying and screaming because he doesn’t understand why he has to leave that precious magna-doodle drawing pad (he LOVES them) at the chiropractor’s office and not take it home.
What does my child who can’t communicate endure? What does he cry and scream about? What does he feel is important enough to throw his body onto the floor and rip at his shirt with his teeth? Imagine… he can’t tell us if he feels sick, has a headache, a toothache, a sore throat. He can’t tell us when he’s hot, cold, or his clothes are itchy. He can’t tell us he wants a fruit buddy instead of crackers, or that he wants juice instead of water. He can’t tell us he’s tired, irritated, or angry. All he can do is show us, and that just doesn’t work very well sometimes.
What do we go through when the son we love throws raging fits; biting, kicking, and screaming because he wants something, is angry about something, or just feels crappy? We feel horrible. We stress every day, wishing we could understand what he is trying to say through some really unpleasant actions. I can only speak for myself here, but I’ve been impatient, I’ve cried along with him, I’ve felt his despair, his loneliness, his frustration. Not only the nonverbal part, but Autism in general throws us all in a tumult of emotions at times.
Megan had no idea what she was saying when she wished her son didn’t talk. It’s kind of like saying to a mom who has a child without legs, “Gee, my son runs around like crazy, he’s so hyper, I wish he didn’t have legs.” Well, I ‘m stretching a little here.
Megan is a kind woman, and I thought she might be more sensitive to the issues I deal with every day. Why? She travels to Africa regularly to work with orphanages, she has a BIG heart. But big hearts still speak the wrong things to the wrong people. I do too. All. The. Time. If I want forgiveness for every time I’ve been selfish, rude, and insensitive, I have to forgive Megan for what she said, and for her insensitive comment. I do. I forgive her.
I know that many of you have put on that catcher’s garb and fended off remarks much worse than this. I’ve written about this before, and I know it will come up again. First, because I’m so dang sensitive, and second because I want you to know you aren’t alone. It seems that’s what everyone wants to hear, sure you want assistance in how to help your child who has Autism or attachment issues, but really deep down I think people want to hear they aren’t alone. Maybe you want to hear there are other careless people out there, and it’s not only your parents or siblings who make absurd comments.
I figure the only thing we can do is be kind, because that’s what we want in return. We can be honest, but truth can be said without anger, and I’ll admit it can be really hard. Megan later realized what she was saying and tried to compensate with, “That must be really hard for him to not be able to say what he wants.” Yep. Right. I was honest, but maybe not as forthright as I should have been. Yet, I had to consider her heart and I don’t think she meant to offend me in any way.
Many of you who have adopted know what I’m talking about in this post, you are right there fielding inappropriate comments and questions from others. This post is for you too, you are not alone either. This masseuse added more comments and questions to her bag. In referring to us fostering and adopting she asked if we ever wished we hadn’t done it. No. Bleepin’ NO! I guess I haven’t done a good job of communicating how much I LOVE my children. My life would be significantly less meaningful if they weren’t with me.
Have you received comments regarding your family or children that were unthoughtful? How did you handle it?