Why I’m Going to Go Easy on the Next Parent Who Rolls Their Eyes at My Child’s Behavior

I’m officially one of those parents.

You know the kind — the ones who shakes their heads, rolls their eyes and wish the problem child would smarten up or just leave. I did all that. Guilty as charged.

My two neurotypical sons have recently started taking martial arts classes. They love it, and that’s all I can ask for. With every class of kids, there’s always one class clown — the disruptive kid, the troublemaker. He talks and talks, spins around and generally acts silly.

The class clown in my sons’ class has obviously been in this class awhile because he has his yellow belt, which at one point prompted me to joke with my boys, “That kid never pays attention. How did he get his belt? Did he buy it himself?” Sad thing is, this kid is so disruptive that I’ve told my boys not to stand near him so they can better focus on their lessons.

Well, I got an eye-opener yesterday when all of a sudden this kid had a meltdown right in the middle of the class. He collapsed to the floor in tears. At first, all the parents watching thought he accidentally got hit. His mom went to him, got him up, and I could hear him saying he was upset because one of the girls in class was laughing at him. He was so upset that he left class and didn’t return — not your typical behavior and certainly, I thought, an overreaction to being laughed at.

I mentioned the incident to my wife later that evening, and she promptly said that maybe the little boy had a disability and I shouldn’t judge him. And that’s when I realized I was one of those parents. Yes, I’m a dad with a son on the spectrum, and I’m more aware of the signs of autism than other parents. But I was oblivious and ignorant to the signs this kid was exhibiting. I’m not saying that he had autism. The point is, I don’t know his story.

So there you have it. I’m one of those parents. It could happen to anyone, and it did. So next time someone acts like one of those parents toward my son, Lincoln, who has autism, I’m going to cut them a bit of slack. Because I’ve been there too and know how easy it is to be that way.


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