Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A glimpse into the future

I often worry about what the future holds for my son. In a lot of ways it can be hard to picture him as an adult as we are currently focusing on potty training, having him make verbal requests, and trying to reduce the tantrums. It is almost like an oasis, the fact that he will one day hold a conversation with us or be able to tell me if he is in pain or something is bothering him. I can’t wait! I know the time is coming but the road there is and has been a long and arduous one. I want to be able to ease his discomfort at the doctor or when he gets a haircut because these trigger such angry and upsetting responses from him. Most of all I wish I could take away that fear…

A recent event really got me thinking about the future of not just my son, but for all children on the spectrum:

On my way home from work this past Friday I stopped in to pick up some Chinese food to bring home for dinner. It was really warm inside the restaurant and I noticed a few people had ordered and were waiting outside for their food (even though it was hot outside as well). I decided to wait inside by the fan and realized that a young woman was actually sitting there eating and suffering in the heat. Another woman waiting outside was talking on her cell phone but would periodically walk in and turn right back around to go outside. I figured she was waiting for her order as well. Then, about 10 minutes later, this woman (still on the phone) came in and very rudely spoke to the young lady about whether or not she was finished with her meal. She demanded to see how much was left in the container and scolded her for eating so little.

“Do you want to take this home?”, she asked, and the young lady must have said yes because she took the food away and placed it in a bag and started to leave. I heard the woman say, “Take the tray up to the counter” and then she walked out, but not before shouting, “Hurry up!” I realized this woman was an aide of some sort, tasked with assisting the younger woman with daily activities. I was appalled at the way in which she was treated and I was immediately overcome with such a feeling of dread and sadness. How could she speak that way to the person she was supposedly helping? Is this a common occurrence in the care of individuals with special needs? It was so hot in there and she was just sitting there all alone…

I know there has been a lot of progress in raising awareness for autism but there is so much more work left to be done. As children with autism grow up, some will require the help of an aide or other service to help them live a more fulfilling life. We need trained educators and professionals to assist them. As a parent of a child with autism I know that I have to fight for him to get the services and individualized education plan that he needs. For now, my wife and I are his voice, and we use it to help obtain the classes, therapy and resources that will assist him in his development. It is amazing to read and hear about all the parents out there advocating for their children and their needs. I hope that by raising awareness, no one else will have to be subjected to the same treatment as that young woman in the restaurant. I take solace in the fact that with all of our combined efforts we are helping to change the future of autism for not just our own children but also those of the next generation.


  1. So, so sad.

    I used to pick my youngest up from pre-school at the community center and had to wait in the common area where participants of a local adult day program ate their lunch. I witnessed something kind of similar and I could only think that the young man being treated like a child (worse) WAS someone's child. And someday that might be MY child. But there is another young man who works with the group and he.is.amazing. It is so obvious that he loves his job and he treats everyone in the most genuine way. Unfortunately it seems that no matter how much we educate and advocate, there will always people who cannot step outside of themselves enough to have compassion for others.

  2. That's so sad. My son used to have a worker like that. She ignored him. She didn't last long with us. I saw her in the community with another child. They were at the playground, she was on the phone, and the child was just sitting on the playground equipment. It made me really sad.