Braggarts can’t be choosers all the time…

I think by now we’ve all heard about this…

I don’t know how I feel about this.  I’ve been on the “annoying child” side of the equation often enough to understand why other patrons would be irritated or bothered by J’s presence, especially if his behavior is socially unacceptable.  As his parent, it is my job to teach him to behave, and to determine if introducing him to a social situation that involved overstimulating and overwhelming his senses is appropriate at any given time.  I’m silly that way.  I’ve learned (in the School of Hard Knocks) what happens when an autistic kid is taken into a restaurant that is full of people, full of noise and has very little distance between one table and the next.

I wasn’t there when this happened, so I am going to talk about what is being reported as the trigger for this incident: “special needs children need to be special somewhere else.”

The first question that came to mind when I read that was “WHERE?”  If a person is going to go so far as to say something like that, I’d be one of those people who would ask, rather directly, not WHY, but rather WHERE.  Where would you suggest the special needs child go to be special?

Regrettably, people who only think of their own comfort, rights, etc. are often incapable of answering such a question.  They have the “witty” statement at the tip of their tongue, but once you actually ask them to expand on what they’ve said they tend to resort to yelling, arguing, berating, and resorting to circular reasoning that mainly centers on THEM, not on anyone else.  “Well, why should I be disrupted…why should I have to deal…why do I want to…I am only trying to have a nice family dinner…”

How would you like to be in that car on the way home?  What do you think the atmosphere was like?  Either everyone agreed with him (which wouldn’t make ME want to ride in that car,) or everyone was so appalled and embarrassed that they sank into awkward silence.    Neither alternative seems appealing to me…

“WHERE?  Where should a special needs child go to be special?  Where is the “somewhere else?”  One can then list some suggestions and ask for YES or NO answers; no expanding, explaining, or vagueness; specifics should be one of the requirements of the process.

“Special needs children need to go be special somewhere else.”

Where?  Implicit in this comment is “not near me.”  Do we send all special children to be special somewhere else or just this one that is currently present?  That would be my second question.  They did use children, so I’m assuming it’s all of them, not just the one.  So WHERE?  An institution?  SpecialNeedsChildrenLand?  An interment camp?  A special town designed just for them?  Away from society?  Away from human company?  Do their parents, siblings, cousins, extended family get to go too or do they stay behind?  Who’s going to care for them?  Will the people who run the town or “being special” place be neuro-typical or special needs too?  Do they get to make their own laws?  Do they get to complain if someone comes into a restaurant and acts in an annoying way, like “normal” people do?

Where do we send them to be special?  If it’s somewhere else, who decides where that somewhere else is?  How about we send anyone we don’t like somewhere else?  How about we start deciding that there are places where some people need to go so they don’t pose a risk to others?  How about sending those people who “offend” or “bother” us by virtue of characteristics they have no control over, like where they were born, the color of their skin, their intellectual ability?  There is a huge difference between being found guilty of a crime that makes you unfit to live freely in society, or being found mentally-ill to the degree where you pose a threat to yourself and others without proper care and supervision.  It is another thing entirely to want people to be “special somewhere else.”  How are these kids supposed to learn proper behavior if they are not welcome in their communities?

That we CHOOSE our time and place for an outing is out of consideration for others, of course, but our main concern is J, and always will be J.  Getting overwhelmed in a restaurant will not be conducive to anything positive for HIM.  Neither the overstimulation nor the dirty looks will lead anyone anywhere good, but we CHOOSE…we shouldn’t be emotionally forced to stay at home and isolate our son simply because someone isn’t comfortable around him.  Yes, we consider other people’s feelings, but…

WHERE is the somewhere else that special needs kids need to go to be special?  If I could ask this person one question, it would be THAT, and -believe me- I’d be patiently waiting for an answer…



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