This is a letter to Dear Abby, copied only in part.

DEAR ABBY: My son is chronologically 12 and the size of an adult, but emotionally he is age 5. He’s a moderately functioning child with autism, ADHD and behavioral issues.

The letter goes on to say how the author is often accosted in public places because of outlandish behavior from her child.

Abby (and I) feel sorry for her and wish her and her son the best.

However … and I know this is going to tick off every parent of a special needs child … what?

It is supposed to take a village to raise a child, thank you Hillary Clinton. We are supposed to be involved in the clan’s future and we are all to give to increase the benefit of the future clan. Of course, any time you interfere with a parent who is dealing with a child, you run the risk of getting yourself in trouble. The village is supposed to only fork out the cash and shut the hell up.

Unless the kid is in any sort of trouble. Then the village is supposed to step in and protect the child from inadequate or abusive parents. The village is supposed to report suspicious behaviors and unlikely bruises to the proper authorities.

Someone should step in and protect the child from whatever harm may come his or her way. We are responsible, en masse, for the nurturing of our children.

Now, as an outsider and part of the village, how the hell am I supposed to know which camp you and your offspring fall into?

And if you have a special needs child who is doing behavior X in a public place and the person next to you has a special needs child who is sent over the edge and into the abyss when confronted with behavior X, who wins that battle? Whose special needs trump the other?

We live in a society and it would be just wonderful if everybody could function perfectly in it. I doubt that will ever happen. However, when someone is behaving outrageously in a public place, we the public are now witness to this event. We the public are simply out in our combined world. How are we to know which option to follow?

Is this something to give the Mean Mother Look to – which has truly stopped some egregiously bad behaviors? Even small children know that look and when a stranger gives it them, they will stop the screaming and kicking even though they wouldn’t do that for their mother. The stranger’s look is somehow different.

Is this something to report to some authority figure somewhere who will help or bring resources to the problem? Are we somehow magically supposed to know that your child isn’t a snowflake, but a special needs child?

I know it is difficult, even in the best of times, to rear children. I know they can be darling one minute and seemingly possessed by the hounds of hell the next. I know it is even more mercurial when one is dealing with special needs. What I don’t know is how I’m supposed to know what part of the village you live in and what part of the village I’m supposed to be camped in at the moment.

So, in conclusion, I have no answers.

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