Inclusiveness is not what people say, it is what people do and know! This article is an imaginative piece of what an autistic child might ask for in terms of inclusiveness. Worded with care by an autism mom. It depicts the real life challenges autism families face because of lack of awareness. It is a plea for people to start reading and understanding autism better.
Being inclusive does not just mean having a physically challenged child participate in your events. Being inclusive does not just mean having different types of people in your group. Being inclusive does not just mean holding your politically incorrect comments back. Being inclusive does not just mean saying OPEN at ALL. There is more to it!
It’s going to be okay…
Being inclusive: here is what my son would ask for, if he could:
- Please stop staring at me when I have a sensory overload or meltdown.
- Read about autism and topics like sensory processing disorder even though you do not struggle with that.
- When my mom gives me an essential nutrient as a syrup, do not ask her if that cures autism (she would only wish it was that easy)
- When my parents spend all their time and energy on therapy – don’t just say “he looks fine, I don’t know what you are talking about” – autism is not visible all the time.
- People ask my parents – so what does he eat, is he aggressive? does the color RED bother him? – I am right here, and I CAN hear you – please do not ask questions based on some random forwards – READ!
- Invite me to play over only if you are okay with a bit of a mess that I may make
- Yes, the happy birthday song affects me, if you find me flopping on the floor – just make way and give me the space to recoup, I will be fine in a few minutes (please do not recommend a thousand things to my parents right at the time when I am on the floor)
- If you know me or any other child like me – please use your social media time to watch, share and like videos about other aspects that come with autism – many people don’t have a clue about sensory issues, gut issues and low muscle tone issues children like me battle everyday – there are many fancy names for these disorders (based on some doctors, I have 6 disorders already and I am just 6 years old!)
- My family celebrates any progress I make (small or big) – so stop wondering when my mom or dad scream with joy about my potty : p
- Diets and bowel movements are big things in autism families – so please do not ask random questions and make my family feel guilty about the choices they make for me.
- My parents are not just my parents, they are also my therapists – so if you are wondering why they make me skate a bit more when I CAN’T and hold a kitchen timer to my target – they are trying to help me – so stop judging, do not just walk in and say “let the child be!”
- Most importantly, my parents spend a big chunk of their mind space wondering about my future and what happens when they are not around – so, if you really care and want to be inclusive – check on me from time to time, ask me if there is anything I NEED, talk about autism to more and more people in your circle.
I know the world is moving towards political correctness and inclusivity – I see it happening and many thanks for that! But what is louder is the mind voice of people when I am having a bad day, the stares I get, the questions my parents get, the lack of awareness to top it all!
So much so, I hear people say that children with autism have poor eye contact with others and now I am noticing parents of autistic children are reducing their eye contact and becoming less social in their groups just because they do not feel UNDERSTOOD!
Let us not let this happen – my family and I deserve to be heard, understood and included in the real sense of the word! I wish inclusiveness goes beyond what people SAY and moves into what people really FEEL and KNOW!
About the Guest Author
From the mind of an autistic child, worded by an autism mom! Ishwarya is just a goofy, fun loving mom who gets to see pure love from a special needs child and a neurotypical child. She is a mom-preneur, who makes time for dreams like community building in the space of parenting and childhood. Her biggest strength – making time for hugs and cuddles without overthinking the present moment!