Today, I wanted to share some of my biggest pet peeves from my experiences with my autistic daughter. I have other random and weird personal pet peeves... like when people blow their noses at tables- because it is just nasty- but this is a list of things that annoy me on behalf of my daughter. As the proud mom of a child on the autism spectrum, I have created a safe zone for my daughter at our home. However, when we are out in public, there are some things that I just can't help but get irritated about. I am not trying to be all Negative Nancy or suggest that the world change for every person's sensitivities. This is just MY short list of things that drive me crazy when I am taking M out of the safe haven that is our home. (Yes, we know that most of them are restroom related.)
1. Automatic bathroom fans. M hates bathroom fans. I hate the ones that are connected to the light switch and they prevent us from being able to take her to the bathroom without getting her all in a tizzy.
2. Hand dryers with no paper towel alternative. Those things are loud! I was thinking about starting to bring a stack of paper towels with us when we go out. Either that, or I can just continue to let her dry her hands on my pants...
3. Automatic flushing toilets. There is nothing worse than a sneak attack on a child with sound sensitivities! Over the years, I have learned to drape a bit of toilet paper over the eye of the sensor until she is safely off the toilet.
4. Fast food playgrounds that ask kids to remove their shoes. M does not like having her shoes off in public. As soon as we get home, she wants to kick off her shoes. I don't know why she is like this, but it took us 3 weeks of gymnastics to convince her that being barefoot there was okay. Nothing I say will convince her that it is okay to take her shoes off in a restaurant. Honestly, the thought of my kids walking around on those nasty floors with bare feet makes my skin crawl- so I don't mind that she likes to keep her shoes on there!
5. When servers are in such a hurry that they get frustrated when I am walking my daughter through placing an order. I know that they are often busy. But I am sure that their other tables would be totally understanding if they noticed that we were trying to help her learn a life skill. Ordering her own food is more than just relaying information. When M orders her meal, it means that she is having a social interaction with someone outside of her normal circle of family and friends. It is important- no matter how trivial it seems to the outsider.
6. When people question me about M's gluten-free diet in front of her. She may not act like she is listening- but she is. The amazing transformation that she has experienced is worth every single time I have had to say, "Sorry sweetie, it does have wheat. Let's find you something else." It drives me CRAZY when somebody says, "I don't really get the gluten-free thing" or "I am sure that she misses cookies!" Please- she is 5, mommy is still gonna get her a cookie- but it will be GF! But thanks for making me look like a jerk for doing what is best for my daughter.
Phew! Ok- glad that that is out. I know the world can't change for M. In most cases I am not sure I want it to. She is an amazing child and I just want her life to be as carefree as it can be. I have told people this many a time. My goal is not to remove all of the distractions and sensory overload sources from her world. I am looking for ways to teach her to overcome the obstacles that hinder her.
The only other thing I can do is spread autism awareness and hope that it will turn into acceptance. So, next time you see a parent struggling with a child having a meltdown in public... remember that they may still be thrown off balance for something as "little" as the fan being stuck in the on position.
Me with the girl I go crazy for!
Do you have any pet peeves?