facebook post joking about public meltdowns

A Response to That Viral 'Plan' to Stop Public Meltdowns, From an Adult on the Spectrum

779
779

Let me start off by saying I’m probably easily offended. And I tend to take things personally when I am. However, I feel this time I’m allowed to be offended. I’m allowed to take it personally because it’s a very personal issue, and the joke wasn’t funny. The joke was offensive to me, especially as someone on the autism spectrum.

facebook post about public meltdowns

The text reads:

After listening to a kid scream in Kroger for what felt like hours and seeing the poor mother try her best to keep it together I had a random thought.

There should be a secret signal parents give when they can’t take anymore so a random stranger can mean mug the kid and tell it to shut up. there are three good reasons for this:

1.) The kid will be so shocked they will shut up.

2.) It will reinforce stranger danger.

3.) It will show them, from an early age, that while your parents love you and put up with your shit the rest of the world doesn’t care about you (or your feelings), no matter how cute you are.

I don’t want to judge you as a person. I don’t know you. But I certainly have a first impression based on what I’ve read. My impression is that maybe you don’t know what it’s like to have a meltdown in public. Maybe you don’t understand the situation. Perhaps you were too tired that day to think about it, so I will explain what may have been going on.

I wouldn’t wish a meltdown on anybody.  

It’s not fun for me or the people around me. I try to contain it, but sometimes I just can’t. Imagine being extremely exhausted, not just because it’s been a tough day, but because that’s how you feel at the end of every day.

You don’t have the energy to go anywhere, but you have to, because that’s what your parent needs to do. Imagine hearing the squeaking of the bad wheel on the cart. It’s painful for you, but you are trying to put up with it. Then you walk into a store with extra bright lights. Your eyes are extra sensitive to them, and it hurts to keep them open. But you have to watch where you are going.  

Maybe it’s hard to keep walking, and your feet might hurt because you have low muscle tone. You walk past the soaps and detergent isle, and you can barely breathe because of the mixture of scents in the perfumes. What if you were experiencing all of this, and you were not able to communicate clearly that you have a headache? Some children are nonverbal. And even if they are not, they still have a difficult time expressing themselves because, well, they are kids.

I’m not asking you to apologize. I’m not accusing you of being a horrible person. I’m simply trying to help you understand that what you posted is not funny.  And I want you to understand why.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

779
779

RELATED VIDEOS

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When My Son’s Special Interest Affects His Mental Health

135
135

Sometimes being a mum to a child with additional needs can feel like being at the funfair. There are moment of immense joy and excitement, thrills and laughter. Those are moments behind the memories we treasure forever, the moments that give us strength. But then there are also moments of fear and anxiety, self-doubt and even worry.

Some days I am the smiling mum waving proudly as my kids ride the carousel. Some days I am the driver in the bumper cars, knocking obstacles out of their way. And some days, like today, I am sat behind them on a rollercoaster with no control over what’s happening, wondering how we are going to get through this. This is the situation I have found myself in.

You see, my son’s special interest has decided to take us on an unexpected rollercoaster ride into the unknown. No one talks about this. It’s become all-consuming and life-changing.

I have always encouraged and celebrated my son’s special interests. They are what makes him unique, and they are very much a part of who he is. I have never seen them as a threat before. They have always been a way into his world for me. They have allowed me to share precious moments of connection with him, and they have always been a way of engaging him with the world around him.

But over the last few weeks, his all-consuming love for animals has opened the doors to obsession. It has quickly seeped into every aspect of his life, filling him with fear and anxiety.

Why do humans eat animals? Why is there such cruelty in the world? How can we let this happen?

His obsession and anxieties have stopped him interacting with people, made him confused and angry and taken away his ability to function in school.

How could I let this happen? How did I not see the warning signs?

I feel like I am the top of that rollercoaster, useless and scared. How can I help him see that his obsession is making him feel so sad? His love for animals has become something I now fear. He won’t eat, he can’t talk about anything else, and I feel like he is losing himself. The special interest I respected and admired has become an obsession that has affected his mental health drastically.

Services around mental health and autism are chronically underfunded and not often talked about openly, which often leaves families like mine feeling helpless and alone. I know there are many parents like us in the same position — scared, overwhelmed and worried for the future.

I know I have to ride this rollercoaster with him. And I know that I somehow have to find the strength to fight for services to help him feel better. I will do all that because I love my son. My children are my world, and I will never give up no matter how insecure and alone I may feel.

My son’s mental health is important, and it should be taken by seriously by the government and policy makers. Because there are thousands of families like mine who are put on waiting lists and are left struggling to do the best for their child. Struggling to help them with their mental health, feeling alone and isolated and often battling with their own mental health issues as well.

And I know deep down that I can’t beat myself up for not seeing this coming. All I can do is my best.

So for now, I will hold on tight and keep going. As scared as I may be, I will never give up, I will never leave him to face any of this alone. Because I am his mum, his safe place, his home.

We’re on this rollercoaster ride together, my darling boy. Hold on tight, buddy. I’ve got you.

Follow this journey on A Slice Of Autism.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

135
135
TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Making Friends as Someone With Hearing Loss Who’s on the Autism Spectrum

42
42

I have learned over the years there are different kinds of friendships. There are people who say they are your friends, but they might not talk to you or get along with you. And there are others who contact you to get together. I am not saying I don’t have friends, but making and maintaining friends is really difficult for me. With hearing loss and being on the autism spectrum, listening to conversations and reading body language can be difficult.

I missed out on learning communication and social skills when I was young. This was supposed to help me understand the social environment and improve my ability to communicate. Though everyone is different, people tend to have a lack of empathy toward those who are perceived as more different than others. They tend to get uncomfortable quickly because of the assumptions they make. Unfortunately, I experienced this my whole life. I struggled to make and keep friends because I the people I met didn’t understand me. It’s mostly the times I would ask people to hang out, and I expected them to say hello and ask me to hang out or chat with me. I waited and waited. Then I realized they were too busy with something else. I may be appear standoffish in conversations, but I find it offensive when people say I do. It feels like it’s criticizing the way I am.

Because of hearing loss challenges, I tend to miss out on a lot of verbal parts of conversations. And being on the autism spectrum, I can miss out on nonverbal signals. They conflict with each other. It makes it confusing for my friends and the people I meet because my language is different. I learned to live in a different way, but sometimes people expect everyone to be the same.

If I learn how to communicate and read social situations with people who aren’t autistic, they should be available and accepting of me. Working with counselors and psychologists has not improved my situation. I have been doing this for seven years, soon to be eight years. Learning theories does not make life easier for me on the practical side. I want to learn the skills from friends and people who get along with me and try to understand me, not from professionals.

After I spoke to several people who have autism spectrum disorder, they agreed with me that making friends can be so difficult. We have needs and should be able to find friends and have relationships. I want to have friends and a relationship. Unfortunately, autistics can struggle with this opportunity in a society where there is a lack of empathy toward those of us who want to have friends and relationships. We won’t have this opportunity unless our differences are accepted.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock Images

42
42
TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When a Boy Got Out of His Seat During an Autism-Friendly Performance of ‘The Lion King’

3k
3k

Growing up, I was a huge fan of “The Lion King.” Now as an adult, I still love watching the film with my younger cousins and mentees. Then recently, I heard that an autism-friendly performance of “The Lion King” was happening on Broadway! I bought tickets right away and was ready for the nostalgia to begin.

Thanks to the Theatre Development Fund and the Autism Theatre Initiative, every season they have several of these autism-friendly performances for our families to enjoy.

The day of the performance came and I was ecstatic. As the performance began, all the families seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Right before the end of the first act, the actors were performing the classic song “Hakuna Matata” when I noticed a young boy stand up out of his chair and began to sing along.

There this boy was, flapping his arms and singing, and I was thinking the worst was about to happen. I instantly became concerned for the boy. That any minute, there would be a stranger making a comment in his direction.

But what happened next left me speechless…

Absolutely nothing.

No judgment. No criticism. Just a boy singing “Hakuna Matata” with a big smile on his face.

As the song concluded after the first act ended, and the lights came back on, I noticed a woman next to the boy with tears still running down her eyes. A smile just as big as the boy’s was on her face.

The audience understood that the boy was having an amazing time at the theater.

These are the types of moments that take my breath away.

This was a moment where there was no judgment from anyone around them, just people enjoying something together as a family.

When I was growing up on the autism spectrum, I often struggled with challenges in the theater due to my sensory issues. But even though the loud noises tended to bother me at times, one of my key interests was in theater. I was able to enjoy countless moments of pure joy with my family, and so was this mom with her son.

I cannot thank the Theatre Development Fund and the Autism Theatre Initiative for continuing to make these moments possible for our community. We need more people to lead by their example in their local communities to make all forms of entertainment possible for our loved ones in an autism-friendly setting.

The performance that day was incredible, but for me it was the audience that stole the show. Thank you to our community for making that moment possible.

A version of this blog originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via YouTube video below

3k
3k
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Boy With Autism Kicked Out of Friendly's Restaurant After Having Meltdown

805
805

When Teri Lyn Jensen-Sellers went to her local Friendly’s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, she wasn’t anticipating the unfriendly way her son would be treated.

While waiting to be served, Lind, 5, who’s on the autism spectrum and is partially nonverbal, began having a meltdown. “Within five or seven minutes, the manager came over,” Jensen-Sellers told WFMZ, “and he says, ‘People are looking at you. Your child is crying excessively. You have to leave.’”

Hoping to stay at the restaurant, Jensen-Sellers tried explaining her son’s needs to the manager. “He was being very loud and he was crying for about seven minutes, and I understand that’s a long time, but when you are in transition with an autistic child, that may go on for 10 or 15 minutes,” Jensen-Sellers said. “Once they are calm, they could be good for three or four hours. I just needed more time.”

Unfortunately, she and her two sons were told they would be unable to stay at the restaurant, forcing them to leave. Jensen-Sellers says the incident was embarrassing and dehumanizing.

“First and foremost this was an unfortunate set of circumstances that took place in the Pottstown, Pennsylvania, restaurant,” Karen Burkholder, Friendly’s district manager, told The Mighty. “We have sincerely apologized to the family and have had a very important discussion regarding meeting the hospitality needs of children on the autistic spectrum.”

On Thursday, Burkholder spoke with Jensen-Sellers, promising additional sensitivity training for management teams so they are better equip to host families who have special needs. Friendly’s will also hold a fundraising event during World Autism Day in 2017, with funds benefitting the charity of Jensen-Seller’s choice.

“This experience for myself and my management teams, while difficult, will be one that we learn from, and become better at what we do, because of it,” Burkholder said.

Photo Credit: Billy Hathorn

805
805
TOPICS
, , Video,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

The Isolation of an Adult With Autism Who Grew Up Without Support

540
540

At this time of the year I begin to feel a little sadness. In the summer I love being outside and talking to people, whether they want to talk to me or not. Now summer is over, and we have cooler weather and colder nights. This means people can use the weather as an excuse not to stop and hold a conversation with me. Colder weather means more time spent indoors, especially in the evening and at night, and when I’m inside for too long I feel a certain level of isolation.

I know a lot of people and I have friends, but I still feel isolated at times. I care about my friends, but many of them are busy with their kids. They have a deep love for their kids that I have never experienced. A lot of my friends have parents whom they care deeply about and brothers and sisters they have bonded with.

Those who have lost their parents or a family member will often feel sadness from time to time because they miss them. My friends care about me, but their family will always come first. They will make big sacrifices and do anything they can just to see their loved ones smile.

I never got a chance to build a caring relationship with my parents. I was an only child so I didn’t have brothers or sisters to bond with. I was born with differences, and so it was hard for me to connect with my peers because we were not on the same level. All of this left me alone and isolated. When I made friends I started to care deeply about them because I was never allowed to deeply care about anyone else before.

Being around others and having intelligent conversations often takes my mind off my problems. It is not easy to live with the challenges of my autism spectrum disorder, and it is not always easy to live in an adult body while at times feeling like a kid. What is even harder is dealing with these things alone without a kind, caring and supportive loved one. The hardest part about my life is trying to heal my wounds from the years of abuse I dealt with, and dealing with it alone. Imagine going through life having no one to protect you, no one to defend you, no one to speak up for you and no one to comfort you. Imagine being trapped in your own little world and not having anyone take the time to enter your world just to make an attempt to try to see the world through your eyes.

When you are on the autism spectrum, you may live in an intense world, you may have intense feelings and you may have an excellent memory. When you have an autism spectrum disorder you may be a visual and direct person. You may need to see, feel and hear. You may need direct instructions because everything that is common sense to everyone else is not always common sense to you.

There are times my feelings get the best of me — times I lose control of my actions and times my brain gets overloaded to the point it shuts down.

As I watch TV and hear people talk, certain things trigger memories from my past or stir up questions or thoughts. As much as I would like to forget my past I can’t. I can remember everything good and bad as clear as the day it happened, even if it was 30 years ago.

When I hear people brag about their kids sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how they developed such a strong love. When I hear people talk about how great their parents are, I can’t help but wonder why that person is so special that they gained the love of their parents. In the end it leaves me wondering why my life had to be the way it is.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.

540
540
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.