Autism and "The Stare"

photo credit: tbone_sandwich via photopin cc
Let's talk about "the stare" for a second.  I'm not talking about a stare you might receive from a child with autism, I'm talking about a stare you might find someone giving someone else when their child is acting out in public.

Here's some food for thought:

  • A child with autism has the same physical features as a child without autism.
  • If a child with autism is approached the same way that a child without autism is approached when they are having a meltdown, the opposite reaction of what is expected may take place.  (This could be why a parent is not doing what one may think they should be doing.) 
  • Autism is NOT and never has been caused by bad parenting.
  • Giving a child the opportunity to have new experiences in various environments is important in that child's development, even if it ends up in a meltdown.
  • Most people are able to go to the store without the constant fear of something going wrong, and most people take it for granted.  
  • The majority of communication is done through body language.  "The stare" can be judgmental and demoralizing.  The definition of demoralizing is to deprive a person of spirit and courage...to destroy morale.
I recognize that there are other instances (besides meltdowns) when families receive the unwarranted "stare" and I will address that in a future post.  The purpose of this post is for all of us to take a step back and check ourselves.  Ask yourself if you've ever found yourself giving "the stare" and then ask yourself how you would want people to react if you swapped places.

Joy Mano
Utah P.L.A.Y. Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention for Children with Autism

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