Autism: Dont judge a book by its cover!!!
People often assume that they know what kind of person you are simply by looking at you. You see a motor bike rider with his beard and tattoos and make the assumption that he is someone to avoid, when in actuality he is a kind hard working father who happens to like bikes and tattoos.
This is of course just one example, there are many. I have seen it with my own eyes daily, people make assumptions without any foundation or investigation.
It happens to my son, Master 10 all the time. People see him an automatically think they know what kind of person he is. They see his size and think he is a lot older than 10. They expect more mature behaviour from him because of his intellect. But the worst is that people, usually teachers that don’t know him assume for some unknown reason that he is a bully and trouble maker.
Now don’t get me wrong he is a big boy, i can understand that people think he is older but to automatically assume that he is aggressive or unkind based on his size and appearance is ridiculous.
But that is exactly what I believe happened this morning. I don’t often attend school parade, but Master 5 was getting an award this morning so I stayed to see him receive it. As is the case in most schools, parade is in the hall and all the children sit on her floor. This is not easy for Master 10 so he is allocated a seat beside his classmates.
I was sitting just behind him with the other parents. Unfortunately, Master 10’s teacher is doing education training his morning so he had a relief teacher, someone who does not know my child and obviously has not been informed of his condition.
A ladybird he spent an hour playing with in the yard!
Whilst the parade was continuing, some of my sons friends moved closer to his chair, one of them even sat underneath it, another was pulling on his shoe, they were not being mean or anything, just mucking around, Master 10 gently pushed his friend away from his foot.
It was at that moment that his relief teacher jumped up and came over, I assumed she was going to tell all the boys to sit quietly and pay attention, unfortunately I was wrong. She went straight to Master 10, got right into his face and told him that “Having his chair was a privilege and that he needed to stop his ridiculous behaviour and be more respectful or he would be on the floor!” Then she turned to the other boys and simply said “Move away from him.”
Master 10, just put his head down and began pulling at his shorts, clearly distressed y the interaction and unable to even look at the teacher. He had been singled out and reprimanded for doing nothing, I could see the hurt and confusion on his face.
I was dumbfounded, had she not been paying attention to what was happening, he hadn’t moved of his seat, they had come to him, they had been the ones who were being silly and yet she choose to ridicule my child instead of simply asking all the boys to behave and pay attention.
Why? Why was it that she assumed he was the trouble maker, did she not know that his chair is not actually a privilege but a necessity, he can’t get up and down of the floor easily and he can’t sit on the floor for long periods of time without being in extreme pain.
If she knew my son she would know that he is never in trouble at school, she would know that his chair is their because of his disability and that it is not a perk or special treatment. If she had been paying attention she would have seen that he had not moved or talked to any of his friends.
The one occasion that he has been sent to the office was for hitting another child at lunch time, the child told the teacher on him and he was sent to the office and I was called. No one had even bothered to even ask why he hit the boy, so I asked.
Turns out, the boy had been hitting and pinching a little girl and Master 10 had to hit him to get him to stop hurting her. Now, I don’t condone hitting of any kind but I wasn’t about to have him punished for stopping a bully from assaulting a little girl.
When all the facts came to light, and they found the little girl with bruises all on her arms, the principle apologised to him, but the damage had been done, Master 10 had been stuck sitting in the office completely confused as to why he was in trouble for helping.
It often happens when we go to the park, Master 10 loves playing with the little kids, he will push his sisters on the swing and help them down the slide, when other little children are their he helps them as well. Just last week another parent looked directly at him and said, this area is for little kids, not for you.
Master 10 didn’t know what to do, he was nearly crying. I just walked over and stood with him and helped his sisters and encouraged him to keep playing. People have no idea the effect they can have on another.
If the parent had bothered to spend five minutes watching their child and mine, they would have seen he was doing nothing by helping the little kids, all of them not just his own sisters, but no, people automatically assume the worst. It brakes my heart.
Anyone who knows Master 10 knows that he is a big shy teddy bear, he would never intentionally hurt anyone. He hates attention and is always quiet and polite. He never causes any trouble at school and is usually the one child who, if their is any trouble or drama, walks the other way.
I know it’s not possible to protect my children from everything, but today I felt especially helpless, it was not as if I could have gone over and had words with the teacher, I will be seeing her after school however and explaining that perhaps scolding a child in that manner is not productive, especially when he had done nothing wrong.
I only hope that Master 10 is coping, even the smallest incident can cause him to withdraw and have anxiety for hours, being singled out and told of in front of his entire class is likely to cause him stress for the rest of the day.
If only people would pay more attention and make less assumptions. The whole world would be a better place.
Thanks for reading.