As Charlotte’s social behavior and sensory issues have improved, we seem to blend a little better into mainstream playgroup scene. The need for me to explain to every person within earshot of what-her-issues-are-and-how-we-are-working-on-them-so-please-don’t-judge-me-too-harshly-as-a-parent, has gone down significantly.
In fact, most people seem to enjoy Charlotte’s budding social skills and emerging confidence. She is getting very creative with what she says upon initally greeting people. Lately, she’s been informing them of what she’s doing that day (my fault–lots of visual preparation there) or who she is going to be for Halloween (Rapunzel from Tangled). I heave a sigh of relief when these interactions go well, and there’s no need to explain some odd behavior or a statement that only makes sense in the four walls of our house.
As my comfort level with her behavior increases, I’ve told fewer people about her issues and most days I forget which parents/friends/relatives I’ve given the most recent updates to. Until….I’m smack dab in the middle of mainstream preschool issues and get caught off guard by the parent who is telling me that Charlotte’s typically developing 3 year old behavior has negatively affected their child and somehow impedes some social interaction between the youngsters.
Now….here I am out there in the open, the sensitive and caring eyes of informed parents are gone. I’m left vulnerable searching for mainstream terms to defend the way my child is handling the situation. This parent will not understand the holes in her social development and how she has new coping skills that are changing every day, and I am so proud of her just for trying to make friends with your child that nothing else really matters. I want to say all of these things as fast as I can because I am fearful of being judged as a mainstream parent…please put us back in the special needs playground where all of this is acceptable and I’m doing a great job.
Instead, I smile a big chesire cat smile, knowing so many secretive and mysterious things about my daughter that nobody else will ever understand, and I say…”They’re just learning how to make friends.”
You are doing great work Joy! Just found your blog today and am throughly enjoying reading it. I work with kids in a treatment facility setting and really related to your comment of wanting to defend them, protect, stay on the special needs playground where it feels safer. 🙂 Thanks again for being brave and sharing your life.