I’m done Apologizing for my Daughter


I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of apologizing…

I’m tired of apologizing for things I cannot control.

I’m tired of apologizing to people who don’t deserve it.

However, I’m most tired of apologizing for my autistic daughter.

Today, while checking out in the book store, Harper ran away to go to the children’s section (without looking back or slowing down ) so she could press the heart of Elmo to make him dance just one more time.

As the cashier awkwardly smiled at me, I apologized to her that I could not finish the transaction at this second because I had to go find my daughter. But quickly said I’d come right back.

The cashier’s response, “you’re the only one in the store with THAT child?”

I apologized because my daughter couldn’t let go of the obsession she had with Elmo.

Then, I took her to the Dream Big Princess: Beauty and the Beast showing at the movie theater.

Harper was eating her popcorn, drinking her Minute Maid Mixed Berry juice, and watching the ads and commercials.

Once the movie started and the music started playing she stood up and starting humming and vocal stimming (loudly), and swaying back and forth.

She loves music.

She loves dancing to every song she is able to listen to but we had to leave before the movie was even over, not because she was bad or didn’t enjoy it…but because my daughter’s way of showing enjoyment made others unhappy.

I apologized for my daughter behaving inappropriately at the movie theater.

After those two back-to-back trips filled with disappointment and apologies, we went into Target.

Before we started shopping, I took Harper to the bathroom to change her pull-up.

I’m at the changing table with my daughter, who is looking at her book as I change her.

A woman I’ve never met or even seen before approaches us.

What comes out of her mouth is what makes me question humanity…

She said, “You know what bothers me? When people use the changing tables for children her age (as she forcefully points in Harper’s direction). Your daughter is too big and too old to use the changing table. You should be more conscious of the fact that newborns and infants need these, not her.”

In utter disbelief, and my undressed daughter lying there not knowing of what is going on…all I could say was “I’m sorry”.

I drove home in tears after three failed attempts of just wanting to have a “mama-daughter day.”

I just wanted to take her to the bookstore. I just wanted to take her to the movie theater. I just needed to change her pull-up in the Target bathroom.

I didn’t want to apologize and justify why my daughter behaves the way she does.

It’s excruciatingly exhausting because this kind of thing happens more often than people realize.

I shouldn’t have to apologize for my daughter living with a hidden disability.

If it were something people could physically see, would it change the cashiers perspective? Or the other movie-goers attitude?

Or even change the rude woman who approached a mother who was just trying to change a damn pull-up without putting her four year old daughter on the dirty bathroom floor?

Would it make a difference?

Why can’t we see past our own image of what is normal or age-appropriate behavior?

It’s days like this that make mothers of special needs children not want to leave their homes. Why bother?

I’m here to say, I’m done feeling guilty for my daughter being the way she is.

I’m done apologizing.

Written by, Meagan Sanders

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Kate Swenson

Kate Swenson lives in Minnesota with her husband Jamie, and four children, Cooper, Sawyer, Harbor and Wynnie. Kate launched Finding Cooper's Voice from her couch while her now 11-year-old son Cooper was being diagnosed with autism. Back then it was a place to write. Today it is a living, thriving community of people who want to not only advocate for autism, but also make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities and their families. Her first book, Forever Boy, will be released, April 5, 2022.

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