Why Autism is Not My Excuse

“ Oh but that’s OK for him. He has autism.”

I had to blink a few times because I wasn’t quite sure if I heard her correctly.

This kind and gentle grandmother standing next to me was actually blaming my sons poor behavior on his autism. What is this OK?

Is this really how people viewed  children with autism? That every single thing they do- say- think- act- is BECAUSE of their diagnosis?

We were both standing  at the doorway watching through the Window dance class. It’s a class filled of three and four-year-olds, primarily little girls, but my four-year-old Hudson was the proud single little boy!

Having an average attention span of only a few minutes, the dynamic teacher was leading the class through a series of dance moves- although it looked more like arms and legs getting tossed around in a blender.

They skipped, turned and pointed their tiny toes.

They stood on their designated mat, jumping on and off, in and out of hula hoops.

They crossed their arms and curtsied to the teacher. Little girls in their pretty pink tights and puffy skirts.

Hudson in his running pants and sneakers.

At one point, the teacher was transitioning from one part of the class to another, and the kids were asked to stand in a line. The majority of the kids listened, excited for the next activity. But not Hudson, or his little friend he had made! (Yes! He made a little friend!!!)

Hudson and his other little girl stayed directly in the middle of the room. Both laying flat on their belly, kicking their legs and giggling.

I was overjoyed! A cute little friend with him, both being silly together!

The grandmother who had been previously standing next to me, and who I had talk to during other classes, started banging on the window.

Her eyes became crossed and she may very stern expression on her face. Using one finger she tapped on the glass over and over again until she got the attention of her granddaughter.

She made dramatic hand gestures encouraging her granddaughter to get up off the floor and go stand in line.

Although her granddaughter couldn’t hear her, the grandmother mouth over and over again “listen to your teacher! Follow the directions of your teacher! “

A few seconds later the teacher skipped both little kids up from the middle of the room and they quickly joined their peers in the line.

Without another thought, both little friends were engaged in the next activity as if they are momentary lapse in direction following hadn’t existed.

I smiled at the grandmother who was clearly upset at the actions of the little girl.

“Oh these things happen. There to be expected when you have a class of preschool age kids. Hudson does this all the time. I’m just happy he is participating today” I said.

And she looked at me. “ oh but that’s OK for him. He has autism. My granddaughter knows better than to behave like that.”

I wasn’t really sure how to respond. Part of me was so thankful that she was excepting of him.

As a mother, I spent so much of my time advocating for my child with disabilities. Promoting acceptance and inclusion of people with all abilities to participate in any activity that they desire.

After all, I’m the one that has my autistic little boy in a neuro-typical dance class for girls!

He attends a regular preschool and a regular Sunday school class. He is a regular kid, why wouldn’t he participate in regular activities!

But for some reason, this comment didn’t sit right with me.

It was like she was giving justification for his bad behavior on his diagnosis.

We weren’t talking about typical autism characteristics. We were talking about a little boy who in that moment decided that he didn’t want to follow directions.

That had nothing to do with a medical diagnosis or a psychologist evaluation.

It had nothing to do with his behavior specialist or his anxiety. In that moment he was just being a regular kid.

Newsflash…kids don’t always listen!

That comment left me thinking. In my attempt to be so proactive for inclusion for Hudson, was I giving the wrong message?

In my attempt to explain his behaviors and characteristics, was I forgetting that at the end of the day people also need to see him for exactly what he is.

He’s a little boy who is going to have his moments of defiance. He’s going to yell. Throw things. Fight with his sister. Spit out his food.

No, it is not because he has autism that he’s acting that way.

It is because he is just my little boy!

Written by, Lyndsay Gardner

I am the mommy of an amazing 4 year old little boy with autism! In addition, my husband and I are foster parents, and have an adorable biological two year old! Our life is crazy, but also amazing! Follow along on Facebook at The Llama Mama Gang!

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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