Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Tantrums: Don't Be Afraid

Below, I've linked a blog post from Autismspot founder, Kent Potter, about what others can do when a child is having a tantrum. He discusses the topic far more soberly than I do in Kicking and Screaming and manages to do it without swearing.

A public tantrum is a recurring nightmare scenario for parents of an autistic child. It happens frequently and when it doesn't, parents are still worried that it might at any moment. It makes it hard to enjoy a meal at a restaurant or popcorn at a movie or a power play at a hockey game when you know you could be heading for the exit without any warning. It's also a large contributor to turning parents of autistic children into shut-ins.

As I said in a previous post, I'd much rather have "Autism Awareness" transform into "Autism Understanding". There's very little the public can do in the name of causes and therapies. Given the passion that goes into these discussions, I know I'd steer clear of them if I wasn't on this side of the fence. Making the public aware of these debates and discussions adds very little practical value to the situation. I'd like to see the focus directed in areas where the public can make a difference and Kent's post is a wonderful example of that.

The scenario that Kent describes is where "the rubber meets the road" in terms of understanding. Children with high functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome offer no outward clues about their condition and as a result, their tantrums are interpreted as behavior problems and bad parenting. If people understood what might be happening during these situations, the stress on parents would reduce dramatically. Posts like Kent's are valuable in this part of the battle.

“Please don’t be afraid. He’s just a little boy.”

It’s devastating to try and mange through tantrums that can occur with a child who has Autism....When the community is unaware, uneducated, and unwilling to recognize that because a child doesn’t “look” different, does not mean that something more is going on than just a child “misbehaving”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the whispers, “That boy just needs a good spanking.”, “What horrible parents. They can’t even control their baby.”, “I bet they wish they had the receipt so they can return that one.”...

Click here to read the rest:

I invite you to check out the rest of the Autismspot site. It's a treasure trove of information provided by those on the front lines of this. I particularly like the videos by James Williams about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome, though all of the blogs and videos are excellent.

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