Step-Mother kicks autistic step son.
During the school holidays, my ex-husband and his new wife took my boys on a “family” holiday to Queensland.
While both of my sons were very excited about the prospect of visiting theme parks like Movie World, Dream World and Wet and Wild, my 17-year-old son, who has Autism, also expressed his fears that he may not be able to cope with the crowds and the noise he knew that he’d have to confront in order to join in the fun.
Instead of focusing on the negatives I tried to encourage my son to view his holiday as a way to practice his social skills in a new and perhaps a more challenging environment.
He took to this idea with great gusto and went into a kind of ‘social skills’ overdrive, taking any and all opportunities that presented themselves to try and talk to workers in every shop we went into.
He told the ladies at the chemists that they had beautiful hair and complimented each and every check out assistant in our supermarket by telling them they were either ‘fast’ or ‘good’ at their jobs.
For each positive comment he gave he received both kind words and supportive smiles in return.
Buoyed by his success, his fears surrounding his ability to cope with the crowds and the noise of the theme parks gradually lessened.
So off he went on his holiday all smiles and happiness.
Then home he came from his holiday, all grumpy and with his nerves worn down to the bone.
At first I’d thought that his mood may have been a natural consequence of having been so over stimulated whilst away.
But then I noticed that he’d stopped trying to hold conversations with our local check out assistants like he normally would.
Instead he’d begun reverting back to looking down at the ground and saying nothing when spoken too by the same sales assistants he’d previously taken such delight in communicating with.
After this pattern of behaviour had occurred a few more times I asked him why he didn’t want to talk to anyone.
He put his head down and muttered, “I don’t want to embarrass you.”
“You wouldn’t be embarrassing me. I love it when you chat to people. You know that.” I told him.
Still looking down at his hands, big wet tears began to crawl down on his face.
“What is wrong buddy? Did something happen on holiday to make you feel bad?”
He began nodding his head sadly.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” I asked him.
“No…. it will make you sad or angry and I don’t want you to be angry at me too.” He replied.
“Why would it make me angry at you?”
“Because it made dad’s wife angry at me.”
“What? Why did she get angry at you?”
“I don’t know but she kicked me and told me to shut up” he said sadly.
Then he added that she’d told him he was an embarrassment to her and to keep his mouth shut when they went out.
So what had my darling son done to make his “step mother” react so horribly toward him?
Well after much patience the story finally tumbled out.
It turned out that she’d taken him into a souvenir shop at Movie World and excited to try out his social skills in a new environment, as we’d discussed, he’d said to the woman behind the counter;
“Your job looks easy. I think I’d like to have your job”.
Upon which his step mother had kicked him in the back of the leg and told him to shut up.
Once outside of the store she’d ranted at him, telling him that was an embarrassment to her and that he should keep his mouth shut in future because he’d made the lady in the shop feel bad.
To me, the behaviour that my son’s step mother displayed toward him is the only behaviour that anyone should feel embarrassed about.
In one fell swoop she’s taken my sons hard-earned social confidence and tossed it away without a second thought.
Why couldn’t she have politely explained to the lady in the shop that her step son was practicing his social skills?
Would it really have been that hard for her to have shown him some support or to have helped him turn a small social blunder/misunderstanding into a light-hearted event by saying something as simple as “oh yes I’d love to work here too. It looks like fun.”
As far as I’m concerned, kicking a young man with Autism for trying to practice his social skills in an unfamiliar environment is an entirely inappropriate and bullying response.
Let alone telling him to ‘shut up’ and then calling him an ‘embarrassment to her’.
I’d seriously love to let her know just how I feel about her bad behaviour, but unlike her, I have the capacity to put my sons needs above and beyond my own desires, so I’ll keep the promise that I made to him to not say anything, as he doesn’t want to make her angry at him again.
How do you handle acts of blatant discrimination like this when they’re being carried out by so-called ‘family members’?
- Self esteem and Aspergers (spectrumeye.wordpress.com)