If it’s cold outside, it’s just common sense that we put warm layers on: socks, shoes, a jacket and even some mittens. For most of us, all it takes us is a matter of minutes and we are ready to embrace the cold winds. For a child with autism and or sensory problems, this simple task can sudden become too much to handle.
I can’t count the times I’ve heard “do you know your baby doesn’t have shoes, socks, jacket etc on” or “it is way too cold for her not to be wearing pants.”
First of all, what kind of question is that? Yes, I obviously know she doesn’t have these items of clothing on, I’m not stupid. Also, I am well aware of what the temperature is. These kind of questions and remarks grind my gears. What’s worse are the evil glares I get as I carry my toddler wrapped in a blanket, wearing sometimes nothing other than a princess dress, with no warm attire on. They don’t even bother hiding the fact that they are going to stare you down all the way to/from your car and relentlessly judge you. So don’t even bother with your criticisms, judgy remarks, or really any comment pertaining to my child’s lack of apparel, because I assure you they are not wanted.
What you don’t know, is how hard I try each morning to get her to wear pants underneath her princess dress. You don’t know that I have to wrestle, pry, and use actual force to even try to get one shoe on her. What you don’t know is that brushing her teeth each morning, I have to lay her on the bed and straddle her. You don’t see how simply brushing her hair can be a Herculean task. You don’t hear the hysterical screaming, the relentless pleas, or the heartbreaking sobs.
What you don’t know is how nearly every time I try, or on the rare occasion that I succeed in getting shoes or a jacket on her, she is attempting to take them off within seconds. She is pleading with me, using the little words she does know, to take these items off of her. You don’t know that on these really bad days, this simple act will completely destroy her day. You don’t see how this sweet beautiful little girl will be beside herself, tensing her ENTIRE body and shrieking at the top of her lungs, because she can not stand the feeling of wearing these things.
What you don’t know is that we work day in and day out, using various therapeutic techniques to help her.
What you don’t know is that we base our entire day and errands on whether or not she is going to be ok doing it.
What you don’t know is that I have cried myself to sleep too many nights, just wishing I could help her. Hoping that we can have a day, an outing, anything without her losing all control.
You don’t know that we have come so far in speech, only to take a few steps back whenever she has a bad sensory day.
You don’t see how excited we are, when we have a day where we can brush her teeth without holding her down. When we can slip on some shoes or a jacket or even pants without having a scream fest.
You don’t know or see these things, because you don’t care to. All you see is me carrying an innocent child into a building, wrapped up in a blanket. All you see is a terrible mom, neglecting her child when its 32 or below out. All you do is judge, comment or snark. You make your assumptions and then you label me as lazy, or neglectful.
I will have you know that I am none of those things. I am my child’s biggest advocate and I will continue to tell her story, in hopes that judgy people like yourself will think before you blurt out some hurtful comment. I am her protector against people like you. I will continue to try each and every day, until one day we are able to do all these things meltdown-free. Should that day ever come, it will truly be one of the best days ever. Until then, I refuse to put her through so much stress, just to avoid your rude remarks and stares.
I refuse to punish her because I’m, too ashamed to take her out in public.
Although the judgment hurts, in the end I could care less what anyone thinks. I know that those beautiful eyes staring back at me are happy and healthy. I know they are loved fiercely by a family who would do ANYTHING for that little girl.
All I ask, is that for all my readers to take a moment and educate yourselves on autism and sensory processing disorder. These are disorders that affect so many people, in so many different ways. Things that you assume are simple tasks, such as brushing your teeth or getting dressed, suddenly become an obstacle as high as Mt. Everest, to someone so small. Take a moment to spread the word.
Most importantly before you ask a mother if she knows her child isn’t wearing shoes, please remember this article. Please take a moment to consider that there is probably a reason behind the lack of clothing. Better yet, just assume that your comments are unwanted.