“Is he Autistic?”
I nearly froze as I heard the words enter through one ear and out the other. I wasn’t expecting for the Woman who had just packaged my salmon at Kroger to blurt out that question. My 4 year old was standing a couple feet away from me whining a little for a “doy doy” aka DOUGHNUT! I was shocked and taken aback. What prompted this question? Was is because he is wearing glasses? Was it his whining? I don’t know but it was so left field and literally shocking. I personally would NEVER blurt out a question about someones child. Instead of getting upset, I gracefully responded, “No he’s not!” She then went on to tell me that her grandson was and that he too wears glasses. I then told her that Jaxson was born premature and has some developmental delays, etc. We dialogued a little more (mostly her talking and me just listening) before we walked away. As I quickly finished up shopping, I began to feel conflicted in my emotions. I immediately texted my Husband about the encounter and even shared my feelings with my social media followers. I was in such a state of shock that a STRANGER could just nonchalantly ask me a question like that. What was her point? What would she have done if I would’ve said YES? It just didn’t make sense to me and it was very rude and it bothered me.I know Jaxson may do things differently than his peers and of course communicates differently due to his Speech deficits.
I’m not in denial about that. But is he Autistic? He doesn’t display the common symptoms, so in my opinion and even my Huband’s we don’t think he is. And to the person who may say, “What’s the big deal with him getting tested?” Or “Why won’t you just get him evaluated?” Because its our business and we will decide if that is best for him. Its easy for an outsider to project, but unless you have personally experienced something remotely the same, you will never understand.
It is REALLY hard as a Parent when someone projects something on your child. We are fully aware that due to Jaxson’s early gestation (22 weeks) and even suffering a Grade 1 brain bleed, that there was potential for delays and even other diagnosis. It is still a hard pill to swallow. No one wants their child to struggle. Specifically as a Preemie Parent, you want the Roller coaster to eventually stop! But it’s not always like that. Does it get better? Yes! But to everything there is a season. While he has been very healthy and we haven’t had concerns in that area-we have had Evaluations and Therapies since he came home from the NICU almost 4 years ago. We love him regardless of his delays and even future challenges. He is thriving and making strides everyday. He is very smart and receptive to learning more which is such a blessing.
People may ask how I remained calm during the grocery store situation, and honestly I think it was just God giving me the strength to extend grace instead of a tongue lashing. I chose grace and chose to educate her a little as opposed to saying how rude of a question that was. In addition, I do think that people can do a better job of thinking BEFORE they speak. A child’s development shouldn’t be up for debate unless the Parent has spoken up about it first. And even still, its such a delicate topic, one that even I thread lightly with. I am choosing to be more transparent about it because it helps me and I know it will help at least one other Parent feel less alone.
So I encourage you to show love, extend grace and support others.