I’m someone who has a child who is defined in initials. ASD, GDD, SPD and so on. If you don’t know what they mean then that means your child would be termed NT – Neurotypical. My child has Austism Spectrum Disorder, Global Development Delay, Sensory Processing Disorder… and a few other bits and bobs that just can’t be defined.
He’s four and a half… but is 1/2 a centimetre shorter than his (oh so very nearly) six year old sister. He’s also 1.5kg heavier, so he’s not a small kid. He has low muscle tone which means he’s a big kid being pushed around the shops in a pram. And he screams. Oh, how he screams. You hear me coming… sometimes from metres away, sometimes from a block away. There are days where my daughter’s teacher says “Sounds like your Mummy is picking you up today!” because he’s screeched. You see, he’s non verbal. It’s not that he has no voice, it’s just he has no words… and there is a chance that he may never be able to speak.
So there he is, my gorgeous boy who is larger than half my daughters Prep class, he’s in a pram, he’s screaming in frustration and sobbing because nobody understands him… medically he’s considered to be a 16 month old, not a four and a half year old. And there I am, the Mummy just trying to keep it together, to not show I’m upset, to answer any amount of questions that may be considered rude or personal but I’m telling myself to put on my “parent of a special needs child” hat and answer politely.
And there everyone else is… muttering, whispering, approaching me in shops and saying “If that was my child then I’d slap them til they shut up.” There are moments when I can no longer be polite… probably in retaliation to the rudeness I face quite often… not that it makes it better. Those are the days where I actually say to the person in the shop “And which issue will that solve? The autism? The development delay? And where did you get your medical degree anyway?” Yes, it’s rude… but, frankly, the initial comment isn’t polite either. And so there are times when my halo slips (and it shatters with increasing regularity) and I bite back.