Saturday, March 27, 2010

Smockity Frocks has sincerely apologized, and I accept her apology.

One of my more Smockity memories goes like this...I remember one day when my oldest son was just entering kindergarten, and my youngest was a very busy toddler. We went to Sabbath school and my older son, who is autistic, was moved into the kindergarten class. The expectations were a lot more, like sitting in his chair and following directions and listening, no talking unless asked. It was a complete disaster, he wandered around the room humming and flapping, but he was listening. I tried to get him to sit down but it was difficult with my toddler, who was also all over the place, and I had no one to help me (dh was working in the hospital). I have to say, the class was terribly boring. What kid wants to sit at a table and listen to a lesson being read from a study guide? Finally, the woman who was in charge said in a disgusted tone, "Can't you control your child? What is the matter with him?" (as if she didn't know, everyone knew he was autistic, it was a very small church). I was so frustrated and tired and her remark was so thoughtless, I replied, "He's autistic. What do you expect, robots? When something is this boring, it isn't going to engage him." And I took the boys and left.

As soon as we got into the hallway, they both collapsed to the ground in double meltdowns. I sat on the floor and tried to calm them, but it didn't work. I looked up and saw a group of 5 moms that I knew, I had even delivered two of their babies. They all gave me the "look". No one offered to help me get the kids out to the car. I couldn't carry both of them and I couldn't leave either of them to take one out to the car and come back for the other one. I had to wait until one kid could walk and slung the other one over my shoulder and ran to the car. We never went back to that church again.

So when Smockity Frocks wrote her piece and had it pointed out that the 4 year old girl in the library was probably autistic, and was unrepentant (until now), I'll admit it triggered emotions from long ago...anger, and even more so pain and sorrow.

This morning a friend told me that Smockity Frocks has apologized. This is what she said:

An Apology

by Smockity Frocks on March 30, 2010

From the very beginning, I have always wanted this blog to be a blessing, something to help others, and never to hurt. I wanted to make people laugh, even in the midst of parenting trials.

It has become evident that I have not achieved that goal. I have unintentionally caused hurt and pain and for that I am truly sorry.

When I described a situation I observed recently, I was seeing in my mind and describing on my blog behavior that I have witnessed dozens of times in my own seven children and hundreds of students during my eight years as a school teacher. The behavior I described was nothing more to me than childishness and impatience, but I can see now that the words I used were viewed as symptoms of autism and many people were offended.

The most grievous part, for me, is that this has brought dishonor to the name of Christ, and that is wholly the opposite of my life’s mission.

It is my sincere hope that this apology will bring healing and peace.

Given the nature of many of the emails I have received, please understand why I feel it is necessary to close the comments on this post.

I prefer not to hold onto the anger, because it only hurts me. I don't want to become bitter. I feel like we accomplished what we wanted to, making Smockity and others aware of more than a statistic, they realize our kids are everywhere, even in the library, and they will be more charitable towards our kids and any kid, even those who aren't autistic.

I think anger can be a good motivator, and I feel channeling it to make a difference in our kids lives, and the lives of autistic adults hopefully, is what my goal is. Who knows how many people who never commented, or those first 23 commenters on her blog alone, will now maybe not even just cut our kids some slack, but could possibly do something in the future for our kids?

If we hang onto the anger and continue to point a finger, it could backfire and cause resentment amongst those parents. They will effectively close their minds and not even try to think or help anyone with autism, or could even hold a grudge. That is what happens when people are told, "no matter what you say, you are an asshole, and I'm not giving you a second chance."

People make mistakes. If they try to understand a different point of view, and sincerely say they are sorry and have learned from their mistakes, I will forgive them. I have made and still make a lot of mistakes, and I hope people will forgive me when I say I'm sorry and am sincere about it, and change my thinking.

Smockity Frocks has apologized very sincerely. I accept her apology and wish her the best of luck in life. I believe she has learned from us and will not be judging a child's behavior nor mocking a child again. I think this is a very good start to "Autism Awareness Month". I know that I am grateful for having "met" a lot of special needs parents through the blogs and on Facebook in the last week. Even though many of us have are in different countries or have different point of views, we have found common ground in our children, and wish to make society better and more tolerant of those who are different...and maybe even, hopefully, embrace our children to celebrate in their uniqueness.

For me, this is what "Autism Awareness Month" is all about.

I would like to give a shout out for a blog called "Respect For Infinite Diversity". It is a wonderful blog by two new and dear friends:

A Call to Action

Where are the organizations that help individuals?

Where are the organizations that provide mentoring or someone to listen when you need an ear?

Where are the organizations that will help individuals find the help they need?

Help us become that place.

It's a start. A new beginning. A chance to make a difference.


kathleen said...

Very well put and lovely. Yes, what good comes out of holding on to anger? People joined together-how wonderful is many people were indeed educated by all of this. None of us are perfect-we all need to keep working together..any parent of any child could use a little help now and again-or a nod-or just some reassurance..sometimes just a small gesture can ease someones day. Thanks for posting this..:) and thanks for the blog plug!

Squillo said...

Beautifully said, Stork.

This is my hope for the extravaganza that has become Autism Awareness Month: That everyone read just one story like yours and think about putting empathy in place of judgment for parents who MIGHT be dealing with something more than simple "bad behavior."

KWombles said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. We often get slapped the hardest when we receive no compassion from the people and in the places we most expect to get it.

We'll keep working to build acceptance and appreciation for our children, and at increasing the accommodation. And not just for our children, but for all individuals with impairments (and not).

Thanks for the plug for RFID; I know Kathleen and I (and of course T and L) have high hopes that we can use that platform to help people connect with others, collate resources, and provide support (and hopefully some chuckles as well).

farmwifetwo said...

It wasn't whether or not the child had autism. It was the attitude, the "I know better, I'm a better parent" attitude that upset me the most. Instead of going over to the Grandmother, talking to her, discussing the computers... reaching out like a good Christian woman (yes, that was sarcastic)... She snubbed both Grandmother and child and then patted herself on the back about how wonderful she was.

She still wrote that in her opinion the child was just misbehaving in that appology... which in the end doesn't matter either way. Actions speak louder than words... and her lack of action. Lack of compassion, lack of discussion, lack of communication with the Grandmother, lack of teaching her children the correct response to that situation... speaks volumes.

Justthisguy said...

Lemme see if got this right: They trusted you enough to let you put your hand up their, uh, "girl parts", but weren't willing to lend a hand in a situation where everybody had his clothes on?

See what I mean, about the NT wimminzes?

Justthisguy said...

I actually have nothing to say here, I am just commenting because the WV is funny.

It's autne. Norwegian word for "as autistic as possible"?

Papa Bear said...

Thanks for spreading the good news, and not just the bad. After reading this, I linked her post, and I hope and pray others will do the same:

Club 166 said...

Yeah, delivering their two kids, and treating you like that-that was harsh, real harsh. It's OK for you to be willing to come in at any time of the night or day to take care of them, but they couldn't see fit to reach out to you. Definitely a "Smockity moment".

Forgiven or not, I like the sound of the term "Smockity moment".

Arby said...

I have to give the woman credit where credit is due. Well done!

Casdok said...

Good post :)

Tara said...

@Justthisguy, Club 166

interestingly enough, that tidbit about being considered good enough to deliver the child but not good enough to be helped in your own hour of need has cultural precedent in some societies. In traditional Indian caste system, midwifes were usually untouchables. So, the person delivering your child would be the same person you would otherwise ignore, avoid contact with and generally treat as not quite human.

Similarities with our own civilized and modern western society can be quite astounding...

jenniferarb said...

Hi Storkdok!
I did actually leave a response comment on your first post about this but somehow it didn't go through. That happens to me sometimes though because I have some sort of weird buzzy effect on computers.
So the jist of what I said was this:
I remember that day when I was commenting on smockity's blog. I can honestly say I was never angry. I experienced a wave of extreme sadness. It did stir up some memories of nasty comments/looks in my past as well. All day long I was crying and shaking off and on. I had a real emotional reaction to this one. And I even wondered to myself why would I let this woman whom I have never met impact me so much. But it was not just this one comment or the comments of her followers. It was all the instances, looks, comments, and judgments that I had experienced over the years. And I also accept her apology. I think it was genuine. And I think all things happen for a reason. So maybe we were a part of something that made a difference even if a little one.
Funny that you are an OB - I am an L&D RN. :)
(I put in my notice days after getting my son's diagnosis)
But I couldn't find you on facebook.