Ignorance: a lifelong diagnosis?

I’ll admit I have a pretty sharp tongue. Not just termagant-style, but wrapped in pointed wit, sarcasm and humor. So although I’m not the Queen of the witty retort, I’m definitely in the entourage somewhere.

Which is why Dianne Sylvan is on my list of heroines, with her post here.
Those of us who have spent much of our lives overweight can identify with her sentiments, right down to playing sidekick to the skinny friend. But to have the quick thinking and cojones to just lay SB out like that? Kudos, my sister, kudos!

Even in this so-called enlightened day and age, where you can text a message around the world, on a handheld device, venture up the tallest mountain or to the floor of the deepest ocean, or put a man on the moon (what? not all of them?), people still find it necessary to hurt others with their words, even in a negligent way.

I have no doubt that Miss SB in that piece had no second thought about the impact of her words. Any more than someone who uses the N-word. Or someone who blurts out, “Retard,” at one of our kids, just because they don’t move, speak or react in an expected manner.

When we first got our diagnosis, we went to the local autism support group and received a stack of business cards in pretty rainbow colors that said “Congratulations! You have just met a child with autism!” and went on to explain in idiot-friendly language how the child and his family struggle each day, and thank you for understanding. I liked the idea. It somehow turned the spotlight back on the woman in the Wal-Mart line who’s staring you down while your child has a completely-unanticipated meltdown because you couldn’t find the Mickey Mouse shoes and had to take Spiderman instead.

I mean, I know it looks and sounds like a temper tantrum, lady, but you have no idea how long it took to get the child in the store, deal with the fluorescent lighting, the crowd, the over-loud Muzak, the noise of the heating/cooling system, people talking, get to the shoe department, search three times as long as you intended for the desired shoes to learn they ran out earlier in the week, by now, twenty minutes past time for dinner and the child’s reading the clock behind the registers and losing it. Not his fault. Impossible to explain. So you hand them the card and hope they feel guilty.

Captain Oblivious has always been hyperlexic, so he can pull off normal for 15 minute spurts in public like that. (You can just never tell what he’s going to say–but he always says it!) Little Miss has struggled with language from the get-go and for years I interceded as soon as some adult spoke to her, to reply for her or whisper a soft explanation so they would understand why she didn’t act like all the other apparently healthy girls her age.

But lately I’ve stopped. She’s actually come to the point where she can respond to a couple of the sort of polite questions cashiers and other adults ask before she looks away. Yesterday, with fast-beating heart, I remained at the library table while she went up to the counter to negotiate the request to play with one of the library’s toys. I watched as she listened to the librarian’s directions about choosing from the toy catalog, which she dutifully found and then selected one; she waited patiently while it was retrieved, played, cleaned up and returned the box to the right place. All by herself. No retards here, no sir.

You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t feel extraneous just yet. I mean, someone still had to drive the car home. But I finally saw a possible future where I could be. Hallelujah.

5 thoughts on “Ignorance: a lifelong diagnosis?

  1. Pingback: Business Card Information and Deals » Blog Archive » Ignorance: a lifelong diagnosis?

  2. OH, I love it. That’s wonderful. That must’ve felt good. For both of you.

    And I’d almost forgotten those days of going to the grocery store 10 times in one day just to work on getting in the door, in the cart, down one aisle, etc. Boy, am I glad those days are behind us!

    Great post. Makes me smile to read and it makes me think a few years down the road for my own little man. With hope.


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