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January 7, 2009

Apologizing for Autism.

I am working on being a parent who educates first and reacts second.

Too often, I read or hear about a parent apologizing for their child’s disability/disorder, and I just want to jump on the nearest plane, fly to their town, and lay the smackdown on the person that messed with their child.

Of course, it is only minutes later when I remember that this approach has and will continue to get us, the disabled community absolutely nowhere.

But I do wonder why parents feel the need to apologize, especially to people who are rude, condescending, and ignorant.

I mean who really should be “apologizing”?

The special needs child who may not understand that certain behavior could be deemed inappropriate and/or disruptive or the adult who is oblivious to the fact that they are not interacting with a neurotypical (NT) child?

Or…

Are apologies even warranted?

Another thing I think too much about is discipline.

As parents to special needs children, are we not to discipline them?  Is there some other way to teach them that for every action there is a reaction?

Wednesdays are double therapy days for my son.  While waiting for him to finish with speech, I noticed another mother disciplining her son.  In order to get his attention, she used the “pull ‘im by the ear” trick from days of yore.

This scene reminded my husband of a famous painting where a child is being disciplined in this manner.  Unfortunately, the artist escapes him, and good ol’ Google ain’t turnin’ up any leads.

Anyhoo, what made the scene interesting was the fact that this little tot has Downs Syndrome.

Now, some would say that this type of discipline could be construed as being cruel because a special needs child does not comprehend right from wrong at the same level as a neurotypical child… or do they?

Case in point… last night, I discovered my prince having a grand old time on his computer.  The problem with this was he didn’t ask permission to use it.

He was advised to shut it down, and I explained the situation to him using words I felt he could best process and sent him to his room to read.

Minutes later, I looked towards the back room, and what do you think I discovered… again?

You guessed it!

Although, the room’s light wasn’t on, the computer WAS.

Yes, my friends, HRH made a very calculated move!  He opted to return to his beloved computer, and by not turning on the light, I was not immediately aware of this felony {wink}.

Sneaky, very sneaky… and oh so appropriate behavior for a child his age and a behavior often observed by parents of NT children.

Now, I’m not old school when it comes to discipline as I have childhood flashbacks that’ll last me this lifetime and beyond {wink}.

I don’t spank my son or wash his mouth with soap or put him in corners or timeout.  I do, however, change the tone of my voice when speaking to him where it is quite obvious that something is awry.

Should parents start educating as a means of defense vs. lashing out or apologizing?

And…

Do we really need to discipline our children differently simply because they’re considered special needs?

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