Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Been there. Done that. (A Note on Alyssa Martin)

Now we have a police chief picking on a 4-year-old autistic girl.

I've had people in restaurants complain about Joey, and he wasn't even making noise. The irritation? He ate standing up. The people near us weren't the problem. People would cross the restaurant and tell me how rude it was and disruptive it was that my child wouldn't sit down to eat. Like it was any of their business.

We did have a disruptive period, between one with autism and one with SPD. We had a period when we didn't go out to eat much. We were afraid of people like Chief Rushton. People in authority who are ignorant, insensitive, and able to act on that. If you owned a restaurant and the police chief asked for someone to be removed from your establishment, what would you do? That is called "abuse of power." And it is a very, very real threat.

So Alyssa Martin, we are thinking of you and your family. You have the same human rights as everyone else. We're sorry you have to fight harder to defend and exercise them.


little.birdy said...

How very strange. To me, it doesn't sound like she was acting particularly "autistic." It sounds like she was acting like a 4 year old. Four year olds get fussy, whether they have autism or not. If she was bothering him that much, he could have left, or asked the mother if there was something he could do to help quiet the child.

Stuart said...

Yeah, sounds to me like the kid just wouldn't stop crying. Autistic or not, I'd think that any responsible parent, out of respect for the rest of the people in the restaurant, would get their child out of there until the kid calms down.

Joeymom said...

Another sudden change, such as suddenly leaving the restaurant, would probably have (and probably did) make the situation with the child worse.

I have stood on the boardwalk in Ocean City with Joey in a meltdown. There were well-meaning folk trying to help (which although they weren't helping, we appreciated the supportive intentions), and there were people giving us the evil eye. Fortunately, none of evil-eye folk stopped to make nasty comments that day.

It is amazing what some people consider "screaming", "inappropriate", and "noisy", especially in family restaurants. I had people complain to me in a grocery store because Joey was singing "Waltzing Mathilda." I've had people suggest I use physical violence to "restrain" my children because they want to walk around a shopping cart or sit under the table. I've had people ask me to leave because my children needed to stand beside the table to eat, or during Joey's "squeaky" phase when he did a bit more squealing (happy and unhappy) than he does now.

What also caught my attention in this story is that the parents requested a calming item, and was instead told to leave. "Had they just brought the chocolate milk..." and I know EXACTLY what she meant.

Imagine living your life unable to speak. You can understand language. You know what you need. You know what you need to say, and want to say. You just don't have the control of your mouth to speak(or if you do, the words comes out a garbled jumble of sound), you don't have the control of your hands to gesture, you can't write. You're very, very thirsty, perhaps painfully so- and now you're in a strange room with flickering lights. How do you tell someone you need chocolate milk?

There is a difference between this type of frustration and a non-autistic temper tantrum. One is solved with a few minutes' tolerance while someone fetches chocolate milk.

I'd like to have more information, but from what we have, I'll be following this case with much interest. It has happened to us.