We searched long and hard for our current Instructor because we wanted someone who understood our child and understood Autism. Someone who knew there would be difficulties with gross motor skills and motor planning. Our current Master not only understood, he took Alex under his wing. Alex loves it and he's been flourishing. His instructor told me a while ago, "It's not what the body can do, its the mind. The mind and spirit, these must be good. The rest will follow."
And so we began our time at Tae Kwon Do.
|Lizzy, hauling ass.|
I was sitting in class the other night and I was watching my kids do all their shouts and kicks and whatever else they do, generally minding my own business. Alex was working one-on-one with an instructor, working on forms. All the kids generally spend some one-on-one time with an instructor throughout the class and Alex loves for me to watch him.
So unlike most of the other moms I don't drop and run and then scamper off across the parking lot to Starbucks. Yeah, I'm so on to you ladies, I stay put for the whole fifty minutes and watch my kids.
And Alex loves it. Loves to know I'm watching and he beams when he makes eye contact with me. And that, right there, is why I stay glued to my seat the whole time. He seeks me out and looks into my eyes and smiles.
So while the other moms are getting all hopped up on their lattes, I'm getting my smiles.
|The kids getting their swords. Awesome.|
Anyway, there was a new mom who's kid just joined so she sat next to me. I guess she didn't get the memo that the cool moms bust it to Starbuck's right after drop-off. After watching Alex for a little bit she leans over to me and says, "Is that your son?"
"Yeah, sure is." I say as I'm giving him a thumbs up and getting a smile back.
"I just love all those faces he makes. Look at him! He really gets into it, doesn't he? Look at how he moves. And all those grimaces, frowns and wiggles. He really likes to get into it doesn't he? Wow, look at him!"
And then she started to giggle. There was something about what she said and how she said it that didn't sit well with me. She wasn't outright making fun of him but it was insidious and right below the surface. It was there.
For a second I just sat there in shock. I wasn't quite sure what she was saying. She was giggling at him and how he moved. I went from intense rage to grief in zero to sixty. I got that hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get when you go over a hill too fast or you're just about to take a major exam or something. I blinked a few times trying to register what she was saying.
She didn't have a clue.
But she was laughing.
At my son.
She was laughing at my son.
And then I started talking, almost a whisper.
"I normally don't go around and advertise this, but my son has Autism. Those faces he's making? Those are facial tics or stims that he does when he's stressed. He can't control them. And right now he wants to do well and impress the instructor so he makes more of them. And how he moves? With Autism he has difficulty with fine and gross motor skills. Especially here in Tae Kwon Do, the gross motor skills are really hard for him. These are skills which makes some of the movements and forms difficult for him, why he looks funny to you, I guess."
"I'd like to think you meant no harm to me or my son and you just didn't know. I guess that's why I'm telling you this. I hope you know what the face of Autism looks like. If you'll excuse me."
And with that I got up, went to the bathroom, and cried.
When I came back out, she had gone. I guess she went to Starbucks.
Note: I am telling you this because, well honestly, I don't know why. I came home and immediately started typing, banging out what happened. And then it took me a few weeks to hit publish. I think I'm telling you this because this was very difficult for me. Normally I don't say anything. Just let things slide. This time I didn't. This time I found enough of whatever to stand up and confront ignorance.
Little by little we can change things. Little by little.
And I am trying to get around to all your blogs....I'm trying. This summer has been long, hot and hard for us.