When I was a kid they didn’t call it “Behavioral Disorders.” They called it “Being a little brat!” This is just ONE of many memes I have seen on my social networks. They are shared by my friends and family. I would like to think that is just the ignorant/uneducated who feel this way, but it isn’t.
Driving home from work a couple weeks ago, a college-educated peer told me that she felt that “most of these autism and adhd diagnoses” are fabricated. Her son had some of the traits of a child with Autism/ADHD but HE doesn’t have Autism/ADHD so maybe it doesn’t really exist. She felt it was just an “excuse” for people NOT to parent. Did I mention she was COLLEGE EDUCATED?!? She knew about my blog, my Asperger’s, and my beliefs, but since my thoughts are different from hers, of course mine MUST be wrong. After all, it’s just years of science and research backing up my story. What is that compared to her personal experience with her own kids?
I call people who think this way The Dismissers. I get so frustrated when people make those sort of comparisons. Because their experience is “x” then yours must be “x” too. “I never wore a seat belt when I was a kid. I’m fine.” Thanks Professor Know-It-All. Was your car ever t-boned by a pickup truck? No? Then I don’t think you’re fine because you didn’t wear a seat belt. You’re fine because you didn’t have an accident. Just like your child is fine because they DON’T have Autism or ADHD. It is unfortunate that people think that way because a parent of a truly ADHD child would probably glady exchange your childs “similar traits” for their child’s full-blown ADHD.
Maybe you’ve met another type of ignorance: The Spanking Cures EVERYTHING Bunch.Their meme might say “I was spanked as a child. As a result I now have a psychological condition known as ‘respect for others’.” Sorry to burst your balloon folks, but I had the fire spanked out of me on many, many, MANY occasions and you may be surprised to know that no matter how hard she tried, my mother could not spank the Autism out of me.
Instead of spanking respect into me, my logical brain processed it this way:
Spankings only served to remind me just how worthless I was. Even as a kid I knew you could get in trouble for hitting a dog, but not a kid. Spanking reminded me of my lack of value. It taught me fear. It taught me you could be a hypocrite as long as you were physically bigger. It didn’t teach me love or respect. I moved out at 17 and you want to know what really hurts when I look back at my childhood? I was a GOOD kid. No drinking. No smoking. No drugs. No sass. Still got whipped. I finally decided “What’s the point in being good if you’re still going to get hit?” Hitting me had the opposite effect. Instead of curbing bad behavior, it encouraged it. If I was going to get hit -I might as well make it worth it. If being a little late meant I would be whipped, I might as well stay out until dawn.
While the Dismissers and the Spankers frustrate me, The Nelsons really frost my cookies. These are adult bullies (like Nelson on the Simpsons) They think that bullying OTHER peoples’ kids is their right.
What’s even worse is that many people appear to agree. This past week I saw many people on social media sharing the story about an adult man who was frustrated in Burger King. If you believe his story, the man was in line in front of a mother and her son. His story claims that the boy was repeatedly screaming that he wanted some “F-ing Pie.” When it was his turn to order, the man decided he would buy all 23 pies so the child could not have one. The writer (who has removed his post) claims: “Moments later I hear the woman yelling, what do you mean you don’t have any pies left, who bought them all? I turn around and see the cashier pointing me out with the woman shooting me a death glare. I stand there and pull out a pie and slowly start eating eat as I stare back at her. She starts running towards me but can’t get to me because of other lineups in the food court. I turn and slowly walk away.”
There. Ha ha kid.
Lesson learned! Right? Almost all of the comments cheered for the ADULT man who bought all the pies to keep an obnoxious child from getting one. (As if Burger King couldn’t cook more pies.) I cannot understand that. They are the biggest hypocrites of all. They believe they can change a child’s disrespectful behavior with their own poor behaviors.
EVERY TIME YOU SHARE ONE OF THESE MEMES:
- You dismiss true medical diagnoses. Would you ever share a meme that described deaf people as “deaf & dumb”? No! Of course you wouldn’t. Although that terminology was used historically, in today’s world it sounds derogatory and is offensive to the deaf community. (Yes, I realize dumb used to mean mute and not a measure of their intelligence.) I am sure kids with ADHD were often misdiagnosed as “just being brats.” We know now that they aren’t. Don’t perpetuate ignorance.
- You are saying that any child that is misbehaving just needs to be hit in order to behave. Although I would disgree with spanking for any child, it is especially damaging to children with Autism/ADHD/Mental disorders.
- You encourage grown adults to act malevolent and petty towards children. You APPLAUD them for it. “You showed that kid!”
- You tell the world that bullying IS OK as long as it’s an adult doing it to a child.
Stop. Please. With all the funny, rib-tickling memes out there on social media, surely you can share something else?
Share a time when you were feeling burnt out and just let the kids have frozen waffles for dinner.
Share a time when you were overly exhausted and let your child get away with behavior you normally wouldn’t because you just didn’t have the energy that day.
EVERY parent has had these moments of desperation.
EVERY child has made a mistake and acted poorly.
Don’t judge them based on a 30 second interaction.
I know… some of you are saying “But some kids ARE brats!” Do you know the child? Can you honestly tell by looking at a child which one has ADHD or Autism? Can you tell from the kids below?
Yeah. Me neither. You would be surprised to learn which of these kiddos struggles with Asperger’s. Is it the blonde haired boy with his sweet smile? Surely that brown haired boy must be up to no good. He just looks like he wants to break something. What about the little girl in pigtails. Is she cute or spoiled rotten? And that teenager giving the camera a thumbs up? Is she a good kid or is she slamming doors and screaming “I hate you!” to her parents?
It is so easy to project our experiences, our beliefs onto another person or situation.
For the record, between the two boys, the little blonde haired boy would be the kiddo most likely to break something. He may look sweet and innocent here (and he is) but he has enough energy for three children. He can sneak a snack cake out of the kitchen in 2 seconds flat. He has to touch everything. He is my own personal Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes (my favorite comic). If I don’t hear him, I need to go find him. My brunette son was trying to give me a tough guy pose for this picture years ago. He is my people-pleasing, “yes ma’am”, “no ma’am”, “please and thank you” kid. He was the designated “Kind Kid” ambassador at school and was assigned the task of showing new kids around. He would give you his very last bite of food right off of his plate if he even thought you looked hungry.
As for the two girls. Well… the little one with the pig tails is an advanced reader. She’s a perfect little frog-loving, lizard catching tomboy. She loves everyone. She shares without being asked. She is such an angel. The teenager is also a good kid. A little withdrawn and addicted to Skype, but she helps take care of her siblings while her momma works. She cooks dinner. She is beautiful and has such a tender heart. I don’t know what I would do without her. Did I forget to mention – the two girls on the end are the same girl. The pictures are twelve years apart.
See how little we know by just a look?
If you want to share something today, share this.