My son has autism but has only every hit someone once. Actually, he kicked them. And it wasn’t his fault.
I received a call from his teacher saying Giovanni had gotten into trouble that day for kicking a boy in his class but they were quick to explain that it wasn’t his fault and he wasn’t in as much trouble as the other boy.
The conversation went something like this:
ME: Why did he kick him?
TEACHER: Because the other boy kicked Giovanni’s lunch order.
ME: (Stifling laughter) Oh, I see. Giovanni really enjoys his food so I can understand why he was so upset.
TEACHER: (Sounded like she was smiling) Yes, he does enjoy his food. We spoke to them both but just wanted to let you know that it wasn’t his fault.
ME: Still, he shouldn’t kick anyone.
Oh, actually, there was one more incident. I was forcing him to play soccer during my Force Giovanni To Act Normal stage and it ended in disaster. Most weeks he would refuse to play and cry on the sidelines. One week after I had shoved him on the field and he was chasing the ball his teammate got there first.
Giovanni, who clearly didn’t understand the concept of teamwork and still doesn’t was so upset he punched him in the stomach. Yep, he punched the coach’s son.
I was so devastated the coach had to console me as well as his son. That was the day I pulled Giovanni out of soccer and he started martial arts.
Author Kathy Lette spoke to Mia Freedman on the No Filter Podcast about why we need to change our view of autism. Article continues after this video.
And I don’t mean to make light of children with autism who are violent and who do lash out at neuro-typical kids. I’m just telling this story because that was the first time after Giovanni’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that I felt a moment of relief.
I thought, “Thank goodness Giovanni isn’t one of those violent autistic kids.”
Yesterday a distressed mum wrote a post called, “I know your child has autism. That doesn’t make it okay when she hits mine.” She explained that her child has autism as well and that when she approached the mum at the playground to explain that her child had hit her daughter, the mum announced that her child had autism, like it was a Get Out Of Jail Free card.
Which it isn’t.
It is a wonderful article you should take the time to read because it talks about something that can be easy to forget, which is that parents are responsible for their child’s behaviour in public, whether they are on the autism spectrum or not.