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    Posted April 6, 2011 by
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    The Face of Autism


    I have always wanted to create a t-shirt line for Autistic families to help fight back against the almost constant insensitivity we face while venturing out in public. For those parents who are tired of being watched by critical eyes, a shirt might read, “Instead of staring try caring,” or, “If you can read this shirt you've been staring at me too long,” or, “If you feel the need to offer me advice on my child’s behavior, I will feel the need to return the favor.”


    For those not so bold, a softer critique might be more appealing: “Who would you be if I judged by appearances?” and, “Surgeon Generals Warning: Excess criticism of others leads to prejudice and societal decay.”


    My husband would love one with a sharper message: “At least my kid has Autism.... What’s your excuse?” “Offer advice at your own risk.” “A girl is a lass, a fish is a bass, a person who judges a book by the cover is....” Well, you get the point.


    But my all time favorite logo would read ,“The face of Autism isn't pretty.... Its downright cute!” For as every parent of a child with autism knows, Autism isn't who their child is but a lens their child sees the world through.


    There are already so many challenges a family with Autism face daily. Dealing with the unhelpful, unkind, and often unreasonable comments from onlookers in public is exhausting and I myself have lost my patience too many times with people who feel the need to share or stare. For a while I carried cards which read, “My son has Autism. For more information go to....” and I listed a couple of helpful web-sites on Autism. Many people responded positively, though I did have one lady who scoffed and said, “Maybe if you we a better parent he would be better behaved. You just need to show him who’s boss!” Yeah.....OK, lady.


    What is the right way to respond when you see a child having a melt down? Let me give you a hint: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Would you want understanding? Would you want others to show you patience? Would you want to be scowled at or be given a kind look or an encouraging word? For, whether a child has Autism, ADHD, the Terrible Two's, too much sugar, a bad attitude, or is the product of bad parenting, realize that nothing critical you say or do is going to change that. But kindness always plants seeds of change, courage, comfort and hope.


    And maybe, just maybe, you might discover that “Autism isn't contagious; Kindness is.”


    (Want to borrow an expression?  Contact me at hkrpjr2599@frontier.com for further information.)

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