Dear Mr. Savage:
I took my two children with autism and my ADD child out to dinner this evening for Kids’ Night at Ponderosa. We went in, paid our check, everyone got their food at the buffet, then we sat down, and surprisingly well-mannered, we ate.
Meanwhile, all around us there was pandemonium. One family (yes, complete with a father!) watched aimlessly as their neurotypical (that means non-autistic, sir) toddler crawled down from the table and wandered over to the salad bar, where he proceeded to try to take down the curtains along the side. The parents, both obese, sent their overweight daughter, about 13, after the boy, and she watched as he acted out, with a puzzled expression on her face: What am I supposed to do? she seemed to say as she looked back at her parents.
A normal child a couple of tables over was singing at the top of her lungs and wouldn’t stop when her mother tried to correct her. Several other small children an aisle over thought it would be delightful to toss their food onto the floor.
But there my “fraudulent”, “bratty” children were, eating their mac and cheese and blue Jello and filling out the word search puzzle, and even giving the server praise on the comment card.
Have my children ever behaved like those others? I’m sure they have. They’ve had their share of frustrations since we got the diagnoses some five years ago across the board. Speech therapy. Mobile therapy. Occupational therapy. Constant supervision in school. At one time 70 painful, invasive, family-destroying hours of therapy A WEEK my husband and I put our family through to help them get to the place where they are now, that we can go out to dinner and they can behave.
Oh, yes, they have a father. He works like hell to make sure his children know what to do. And a mother who does the same. We aren’t afraid to discipline them when they need it. On the other hand, we know they are struggling to deal with their disease, and we support them when we can. We try to make their lives as normal as we can. Because someday they will have to live in the world. They will have to know how to go to movies, go on an airplane, wait in a doctor’s office, attend classes…eat in a restaurant. So we take them to these places now.
You said during the July 16 show, “I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is.”
You said, “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron, you’ll get nowhere in life. … Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”
So. Now that we’ve shown you that our autistic, ADD children behave just fine, why don’t you turn that eagle eye on the neurotypical, so-called “normal” kiddies of the land, who feel free to act out any way they want while their parents (yes, even the fathers) just stand by? Because we know you’re not talking to us.