Susan's Blog

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Proud of My Pride

Just got back from the movie Eragon. I took Nat, Max and Ben. Haven’t done that in a long, long time. Usually I think the movie will be just too boring or silly, or Max doesn’t want to go or has plans, or I’m scared to take Nat for fear of noise/tantrums/hard stuff. But that is so old. I’m a tough old bird and a little silly talk or arm biting just rolls off my steely spine. Let ’em look, I say.

When I was buying them sodas and popcorn, one of the cashiers was clearly giggling about Nat. Too much for me to think she was attracted to his beauty. Because first of all Natty had walked right up to the Counter Girl and then just stared at the soda machine, waving his hands and silly talking. He looks like he could buy his own thing, so why doesn’t he, they must have been wondering. I said, “Two Sprites and a Diet Coke.” But when I said, “Sprite,” Nat said, “orange,” so I switched the drink order to two oranges and a diet coke, and then Ben said, “No, I want Sprite,” so I had to change the order again.

I was so psyched that Nat could tell me what he wanted, right away! But Cashier Girlie must have made a face so the Counter Girlie admonished her to mind her own business. I looked over at Cashier Girlie and I grinned widely, saying, “Boy, I guess it would have been good of me to ask them what they wanted first!” Ha, ha, isn’t life just a jolly giggle! I was ready to say, “Can’t wait until you have some kids!” But I continued to smile kindly, the Benevolent Old Mom Who Has Seen It All. I guess I kind of have. Cashier Girlie then looked at me kind of sheepishly. Nat took his soda and strolled away, silly talking at the top of his lungs, God bless him! I just laughed — a real one this time — and walked after him, Ben trailing after me.

Then there was some anxiety over — you guessed it — the theatre lights, which were still on during the previews!! Thought I’d have to take Nat home, but Max reassured us that they would go off when the movie started, so Nat kept repeating that, quivering and shaking his leg the entire time. Poor darling, he refused to start his soda or eat his popcorn until those &*^% lights went off.

Throughout the movie, all three boys were riveted. I, too, enjoyed it. A bit of a Lord of the Rings rip off, but the hero was cute enough — although he looked a bit too much like Max for my comfort — and so we were all entertained.

I am very proud of us, needless to say.


Congratulations on a successful outing with the boys!

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 5:31 pm

I am so glad to know that the skin gets tougher! Congratulations on you fun time with the boys! I can’t wait until I have your courage and composure to not say something rude or inappropriate when people stare or comment about my daughter’s behavior! I still get so steamed by it, but we are still new to this journey and you have given me that hope that one day I too will be able to hold my head high and not worry about it! Thank you!

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 6:21 pm

You are WAY nicer than I would be to people like that. I MF anyone that says anything about my kids.
I just found your bolg-read a good bit of it as I am snowed in here. Wow-you even sew? Check out for some laughs. You are a super mom.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Such a nice post! Some days it is possible to be “the tough old bird” with the steel spine and the thick skin, and some days (sigh) it is not. Nice to remember the times when one was brave and tough and it all worked out! If people only realized how we autism parents have to dredge up every last ounce of strength and resolve and bravery to do things like take our kid to the grocery store, alert to every nuance of mood, schedule and environment…they’d be making movies about US! The brave heroes and heroines who live down the street and take a long time ordering for our kids at the candy counter.

— added by n.b. on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 10:38 pm

NB –
You are always so truthful. Yes, absolutely, there are days when the “tough old Mom” does not exist or is hidden under layers of insecurities and fears. Yesterday, she emerged and was victorious. Who knows what today will bring!

I love the idea of a movie about a different kind of heroism: Autogon (?) Slaying the dragons of public ridicule.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 6:08 am

You’re a better woman than I am. I probably would have (quietly but menacingly) ripped into them. But then again my autie is still but a toddler. Kudos to you for being grace under fire, and hooray for a successful outing!

— added by ASDmomNC on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 9:10 am

I am guilty of being one of those people who would probably have really ticked you off. I used to use these moments as learning lessons for my kids when they were small. If we saw a child in the store, movies, restaurant, etc. acting up, throwing a fit, screaming, crying and yelling we would go by that child and I would say quietly to my kids, “Oh, what bad behaviour, I am so glad that you do not act like that, You are so good!” Many of them were probably autistic but I had no clue! I probably even cast the parent a glare, I’m sure! I am sorry for that now, but at the time, I just thought it was poor parenting and bad children! Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of behaviour that is tolerated from autistic children because the parent feels bad for punishing an autistic or special needs child. I teach special needs children, I see it all of the time. I still feel that if your child cannot behave in public, autistic or not, keep him home or teach him that it is not ok to scream in the movie theatre, restaurant. I am a paying customer too. Sorry, did not mean to be so long winded nor did I say Nat was being bad, I just took this opportunity to express how others may feel or act when they see children acting different. It is just not knowing. I do feel for every parent who has been in that situation.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Ironically, Nat generally does not behave “badly” in public. He’s just being himself, which includes quiet silly talking and perhaps some pacing. What’s the harm? The bad behavior is those who stare, laugh, and judge.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 8:53 pm

um…to the “paying customer”-you never know what the world will present you with when you leave home. The world is not full of well behaved perfect people. How boring of a place would that be. Eberyone has bad days, and everyone deserves to go out. Autistic or not-we all need to be more tolerable. The parents of these kids deal with it DAILY-I think we can handle being out and once in a while being in the same place with a poor kid who is having a tough time and screaming. Let them scream. If I knew who the “paying customer” was and where she was going to be I would park my screaming kid right next to her. And smile. No one should be held prisoner in their own world.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Dealing with other’s reactions to my son’s behavior is the hardest thing for me. Thanks for the post…I need to get stronger about this. I’m working on it. I know I’m better about it than I used to be…I’ll keep trying, and maybe someday I can share a story like your’s. I’d LOVE to just take him to a movie! But, I think he’d try and use the seat as a trampoline.

— added by Candy on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 10:27 pm

Thats the problem. People that stare, laugh and judge do not realize that these kids are autistic. They look like every other child. And as for parking your child next to the “paying customer” while your child is screaming, whatever! But if you keep your child in the restaurant, movie theatre, opera house, etc (get my point?) without intervening than there should be a problem with that! Yes, you deserve a night out, but so does the “paying customer”. ALL I am saying is, If your child looks like a normal child and all of a sudden he starts doing odd things in public, DO NOT be mad at people who happen to look in disbelief at your child and you because they DO NOT understand that something is wrong with him especially if he LOOKS normal. It is very shocking sometimes, and some people do not know how to disguise this shock. If I did not teach special needs children and did not have the info and experience that I do have I probably still would not know. People who do not live with autism think autism is like “Rain Man”. And he seemed more retarded acting than most autistics. Just give ’em a break. Be kind to those who stare and just say “He’s autistic” if you have to say anything. Most people are very kind if they KNOW that there is a problem with your child.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 10:41 pm

I also went to a movie with my son today. (Connor, 14, autistic) and he was able to pay with his “special needs” card and buy his own popcorn and drink. Of course it was all done autistically but the minimum wage theatre workers were all patient and amused. This is after years of practice but he’s getting better every time. I think we’ll see Aragon next. Charlotte’s Web was BORING!.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 2:42 am

I understand what you are saying; give people a break. That is true. We have no idea what is making them react to our kids, and if it comes up, a simple explanation works wonders.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 6:31 am

Hey, d – anon: I hear that Charlotte’s Web, the book, is quite good! 🙂
Yay, Connor! And Yay, the minimum wage theatre workers!

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 6:37 am

Like you, I have a thick skin with strangers. My child does not
misbehave in public, she does stim and do silly talk and get anxious when something unexpected happens. People can stare, but so what? Maybe it is a learning experience for them..

I have to admit that I get uncomfortable when I have to go to a social family event with old friends who had kids the same time I had my daughter. I still, after all these years, cannot help but compare my daughter’s development to her same age children of my friends. I hate myself for it, I know it is not fair, I know my daughter is wonderful, but it pops in my head and then it is just THERE! Try as I might, I cannot get over this….I even avoid these outings, which is unfair to my other two children. A weakness, maybe a New Year’s resolution?

— added by susan on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 8:12 am

Anonymous Special Needs Teacher, One of the things I’m trying to teach my typically developing daughter, and often adults who “don’t know better??” is that a phrase like “retarded acting” is offensive. My son’s primary diagnosis is profound mental retardation. Some of his stims, etc. are similar to those of someone with autism, but that is secondary to his genetic microcephaly. Also, calling typical kids “normal” and those with disabilites “abnormal” is is not compassionate terminology.

— added by Carolyn Murray on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 8:26 am

Ah, I missed that. Tis true, Carolyn, some of the best people I know are “retarded.” I guess I need to do another blog about “normal” vs. “retarded” and what does it all mean.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 8:31 am

To the anonymous poster who wrote: “If I knew who the “paying customer” was and where she was going to be I would park my screaming kid right next to her.”

I notice that Susan said if Nat had become upset during the movie, she would have taken him outside. It’s one thing if your kid is stimming, doing self-talk, etc, and another thing if he’s talking and yelling throughout a movie or at a nice restaurant. Yeah, people need to get over seeing autistic or retarded kids in public–of course they’re going to be out and about. But their parents need to be respectful and cognizant of other people as well.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 8:24 pm

No need to blog on “retarded” and “normal” now. Here is what they mean:

Normal – nor·mal [náwrm’l]
1. usual: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom
2. healthy: physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy
3. occurring naturally: maintained or occurring in a natural state

Retarded –
1. underdeveloped: not fully developed
the retarded growth of the plant

2. mentally challenged: intellectually or emotionally challenged

Susan ~ Save yourself some time, and do a blog on uptight politically correct labels. What is wrong with calling a retarded person retarded? Is it shameful? THose who try to call it something else must feel that way! What about Typical and Non-typical? Is it okay to be called Non-typical? I am sorry, I dont mean to offend. I just want to understand. I am tired of walking on eggshells around highly sensitive parents of “Special” children.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 11:41 pm

The problem is not the denotations of the words “normal” and “retarded,” but the current social connotations. The words have been used to wound and therefore I do have to insist that people be careful when they use them around me. Same with calling autism a “disease.” I always correct people on that, too. Gently. I assume (these days) that people are not intending to hurt me with those words (or Nat), but that they don’t realize that they do. It really is okay to search for another word. Parents of special needs kids — like most other parents — are doing their best, I would think, to manage very difficult situations, no matter how it may look to an outsider. It is wrong to let your kid disrupt a movie but it is also wrong to insult a family and both sides have to own their part in these things.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 7:47 am

How lovely that a supposed special needs teacher has such a sanctimonious, myopic, judgemental view of the world. YOU are the reason I get sick when I think about exposing my innocent young AUTISTIC son to the world, just as he is. I suggest you quit your job and thank the almighty God in heaven that you won the genetic lottery and didn’t produce a special needs child within your own body.

One more thing, if you’re so sick of walking on eggshells, please, do us all a huge favor and quit being a special needs teacher.

— added by ASDmomNC on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 8:19 am

ASDNONNC ~ WHO SAID THAT I WAS A SPECIAL NEEDS TEACHER? THAT WAS MY FIRST POST, YOU DO NOT KNOW ME? You now owe someone else an apology!! Good Grief Ladies!! Every anonymous person is not the same person! It is just too time consuming and ridiculous to post if you do not have a blog id set up!

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 10:08 am

This made me think of my second trip with Alena to a theatre. (The first time, she slept the whole way through Shrek 2.)
We went to see Hoodwinked. She misbehaved and fussed the whole movie, then when the credits rolled at the end, she sat there, not moving, holding up the line, quietly flapping her hands. Everyone stared and gawked at her, but I was laughing so hard it was HILARIOUS!

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Thanks Jen, it is parents like you who allow your child to act up through out the movie that gives us all a bad name. Jewel, Salt Lake City, Utah

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 2:49 pm

Everyone –
Quit it. Just quit it. Jen is a wonderful mom even if Alena had a difficult time — she’s just a toddler anyway! I think that no one gives us a “bad name” except for all the people out there who are intolerant of difference. We are all doing the best we can.
I don’t want to see anymore of this kind of stuff on this posting; if I do it will get deleted.

— added by Susan Senator on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Susan, Happy New Year!

Have a wonderful 2007! Thank you for your blog and sharing your wonderful family with us. I look forward to your postings each week.

By the way, I just posted my Xmas pictures to Tabblo and I love it! What a wonderful product!

— added by Ann on Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 5:16 pm