We have some out of state company, and in true hostess style we are trying to show them some of our favorite places. There is a museum in town that we love so we were excited to show them the local fun. That excitement died instantly during our trip today.
There is a temporary exhibit at the museum that you have to have extra tickets for. We had our tickets and were in line to enter the exhibit and Caleb started to have a bit of a hard time. Now to be clear, I mean he was fussing slightly in my arms as I reached the woman I had to hand our tickets to. This was not a full blown melt-down that you may have seen someone with Autism struggle through. This was slight fussing because he was having a hard time with the transition from the hallway to the new room. It was nothing unusual for us or him, or many many people with Autism. I wish I could have captured the look of complete disgust from the museum employee as she took our tickets and looked at our son. He is NOT blind. He is NOT deaf to disgusted scoffs. He sees them and he understands what they mean. Why would a middle-aged woman want to do that to a child, any child? To be clear, my other four children that were with us are also not blind. This, possibly, momentary lapse of judgement on the part of this employee would be something I could have let go, but then we went into the exhibit.
Caleb was fascinated by the space and was walking quickly around the room giggling and exclaiming in his uniquely Caleb way. He was not disturbing any other guest and was far from the loudest child in the room. However, when he would make a noise or pass the entrance this same employee would turn around and stare at him in disgust. This was both infuriating and heart breaking. As a Mom to five children with special needs I adore places where I can take the kids and have them treated with respect and compassion. This has always been the case before today. I treasured the museum as a place my children could simply be themselves and learn without judgment or cruelty. Anyone who thinks this instance won’t resonate with our little guy does not understand Autism or Psychology.
If you are in public and encounter a child or person who has Autism and you are not sure how to handle it here are some great articles that offer wonderful tips:
- Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
- 9 Tips for Interacting With Individuals With Autism
- 12 Great Things to Say to Parents of Kids With Autism
- What You Miss When You Call a Child With Autism a ‘Public Nuisance’
If you are still unsure remember these important things:
The child is not deaf.
The child understands you (even if they are Nonverbal).
The child is just that- a child.
Compassion is always the right choice.
The parents are trying their best.
Even if a meltdown happens it does not mean the child doesn’t’ want to be there.
No child with Autism is the same.
I hope the museum in question is able to address this issue so our children can easily enjoy the museum again.