Remember Charlie's Mom
Charlie, who is 6 and High Functioning, needs new shoes for school, and here you sit, in the middle of the shoe department. Charlie has been trying so hard to keep it together. He is on his 5th pair of superhero light up shoes. You know they are the right size, but to your son, they don’t feel right.
Then it begins to happen. Charlie is getting frustrated. He cannot voice exactly what the problem is. You ask, “Are they rubbing?” “Is it your sock?” hoping that something will click.
The sales lady keeps coming down the aisle, staring you down, and asking if she can help. It is started out as a kind truly helpful question, but now, as she sees tissue paper and inserts all over the floor, she is just annoyed. Charlie can sense that. He starts getting more agitated.
Now Charlie is balling his fists and making small whiny sounds. He has totally stopped even trying with the shoes. One shoe goes flying in your direction and just misses your head. Charlie’s voice starts getting louder. The sales lady comes back again.
Before she can say anything, you quickly say “We are fine. I’ll clean this up.” She clucks her tongue and walks away. Charlie is now lying full out on the floor, in a complete meltdown. He is so loud, that people are going out of their way to see what the commotion is.
They whisper, loudly, purposefully so you can hear. “My child would never do that,” one person chides.
“Someone needs a spanking,” says another.
“How can she just let it happen?” another person asks.
You carefully, dodging kicks and hits, put all the shoes away. Then, with people still staring sideways, lift your child up, knowing you are only making the situation worse. Escape. You have to escape. Ignoring the kicking and hitting, the head is thrown back, and the pain from the physical connections Charlie made with your cheek, your shin, and your chin, you carry him out to the car.
After 15 minute struggle, Charlie is finally strapped in. You slump into your own car seat and start to tremble. The words of the customers, and the sales staff in the store echo in your head. You put the car in gear, and drive, tears streaming down your face.
You look in the rearview mirror, and Charlie is sound asleep. Sneakers can wait another day.
Scenarios like this happen to Autism moms more time than you could ever imagine. A mom, trying her best to take care of the needs of her child, gets shamed in the middle of a store because her child has an Autistic meltdown.
No one bothers to help. No one offers a reassuring nod and smile. Instead, people judge and whisper. They don’t know what is going on, they just assume it is a bad kid.
It doesn’t stop in the store, either. I have heard countless stories from parents about school staff who make parent shaming comments. “Cannot you control your kid?” “You need to be a better disciplinarian.”
It happens on social media, too. People will see a scenario like the one I laid out, and they will videotape it; or the will make memes, about bad parents and screaming kids. They then post it on social media, making all kinds of parent-shaming captions. People share it and comment on all kinds of rude ways.
As the mother of an Autistic boy, I have had my fair share of it. From in-store meltdowns because of sensory overload, or out a rude outright battle of wit, because words just were not coming easily, and many other reasons. I have been there. So many other moms have talked about it as well.
This is parent shaming. It is hurtful and embarrassing. It makes parents of ASD children feel alone and shunned. Maybe you have perfectly behaved kids, but not everyone is so lucky.
So, the next time you see Charlie and his mother in a store, and Charlie is melting down, take a moment to smile and offer assistance. If you see others making comments. Loudly tell them that they are being rude and that they should be helping and not hurting. If you see parent shaming posts on social media, don’t share them. Instead, remember Charlie's mom, and take a stand.
Let’s stop Parent Shaming, no matter who the child is.
God bless you.
About the Creator
Christian, ASD mom, and Published Author.
Jesus, my son, and Autism are my life's passions.
Contact me at [email protected]
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.