Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Battle Against Ignorance

One of the greatest challenges an Autism family faces, almost daily, is ignorance.  

Ignorance leads to fear and fear leads to, often, irrational behaviour.

A perfect example (yet again) would be of yesterday's visit to the pathologists.

Gabriel has had a bad viral infection for a few weeks that has resulted in the classic blocked nose and horrendous cough.  He has had more medication in 10 days than I have had in two years!  

So yesterday, to be on the safe side, his GP sent us to the radiologists and pathologists for testing.

The staff at the radiologists were awesome!  I explained that Gabriel has Autism and battles to sit in waiting rooms for a long period of time.  No problem, we where whisked through within 5 minutes, accompanied by friendly staff that greeted Gabriel and chatted to him.  What wonderful people!

The pathologists?  Not so awesome.  

Again, I explained and informed them that Gabriel is fine, as long as I explain, step by step, what is to happen before it happens. I could see they were nervous. Fine, this I can understand.  What I cannot understand is what happened next.

The one young nurse stood at the base of the bed by Gabriel's legs.  Suddenly, she blurted out; "I hope he doesn't kick me in the stomach!".

Now, let me state that Gabriel was lying calmly on the bed.  There was NO aggressive or upsetting behaviour before, during (except for crying when the needle was inserted) or after the procedure.

One of my downfalls is my face.  Yup, this face of mine does not hide how I am feeling.  I would suck as an actor.  Clearly my facial expression screamed profanities because she then proceeded to try and justify her outburst, by telling me that she is pregnant.

Perhaps she'd experienced another child lash out and that is why she decided to paint Gabriel with the same brush.

What is NOT ok, is to say this in front of my son.  To basically say she is expecting the worst from him.  That he is to be feared.

What I really wanted to do, was create a new language of profanity to practice on her, but I calmly (I promise, it was calmly!) asked her to remove herself from the room, as there are no guarantees, like most things in life.  

She looked at me, shocked.  

I then asked her to do so, again, after which she realised I was being serious, and left the room.

As we were leaving, I apologised to Gabriel for what that woman said. Many people forget that just because he has Autism, doesn't mean that he does not understand what they say.

As soon as I got home, I e-mailed the manageress and requested she send her staff for training on working with children and adults with special needs.  They contacted me today to advise that they will be arranging training now.

Ignorance is never an excuse for disrespect or rudeness.

And this is why days like World Autism Awareness Day are so important.  

Awareness leads to knowledge. 

Knowledge leads to understanding.  

Understanding leads to compassion.

And where there is compassion, there is love.

And isn't love is the greatest experience of all?