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We Don't Want Your Pity

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:13pm
AJ and I were at my chiropractor appointment a while ago.  While waiting to go in, there was the normal waiting room chit chat.  Just strangers making small talk.  A man came in with a stroller of triplets.  Of course, everyone was cooing over them, and talking to them.  They were seriously cute.  But, AJ is not a fan of babies.  Mostly because they are unpredictably noisy, but also, because I pay attention to them, which takes my attention away from him, however momentarily.
Anyway, that ramped him up.  We got called in for my adjustment, just in the nick of time really.  We almost escaped a meltdown, getting away from the horror-inducing infants.  And, some woman touched his head and said how great his hair is.  CRAP!!!!!  He was already losing it.  And she TOUCHED HIS HEAD and TALKED ABOUT HIS HAIR.  These innocent sounding events are major triggers to AJ.  He hates unwanted touch, and he hates anyone talking about his hair.
But, he very calmly said, "I don't like to be touched."  Apparently, this was the height of rudeness to this woman, who said in return, "Well, exxxxcccuuuussssseeeee meeeeeeeeeeee!"  I turned to her and calmly said "My son is autistic, and unwanted touch is painful to him." 
I wanted to educate her, to let her know not to assume he was just a snotty kid, with an attitude problem.  Instead, what she said was "Oh, the poor child.  And how terrible for you.  What a horrible thing to deal with!!  Horrible!!"  I tried to tell her it wasn't horrible, that I was just letting her know what was going on, that we didn't want her pity.  But,  the doc was waiting, and more importantly, AJ was waiting.  He'd had enough, and at that point, so had I.
So, how do we educate without it looing like we want pity.  We really, really don't .  I don't want people thinking my kid is an ill-mannered brat, but, I don't want the reaction I got either.  Maybe I just shouldn't care, but somehow, most of the time, I do.
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