Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Show Pony

I have developed quite a network of friends in the world of Autism, from teachers to paraprofessionals, mothers of Autistic children to doctors and other family members.  Since every issue related to Autism can vary from child to child, I am often interested by situations that other children are going through.  As I have said before, we can relate to each other and understand quite a bit of the circumstances, even if we are not personally dealing with it at the time.

A friend of mine told me about a problem that she has encountered.  Her child is attending a mainstream school, and is enrolled in an autistic program that integrates her into the regular classroom for a few hours each day.  She has found great success there, and has made many friends not only in the classroon, but also in the extracirrucular programs that she is fortunate to be involved in.  She has a circle of friends that have welcomed her into their fold, and are very protective of her.  When she was insulted by a classmate, they were very offended, and decided that they were going to create a forum for public awareness about disablities. 

I am not going to get into the specifics, but my friend's daughter was suddendly thrust into the spotlight.  She is very outgoing and wants to participate in so many activities, so they wanted to demonstrate how "cool" and "friendly" autistic people can be.  She became sort of the "poster child" for her school.  Now, if you do not personally have a child with disabilities, you might not understand the problems that might arise from this situation.  What is wrong with making your child the "face" of the disability?  Wouldn't they enjoy the positive attention that this would create?  Stop and think about it for a minute.  Picture yourself in middle school or high school.  Everyone at that age is struggling with identity issues.  Trying to figure out who they are, who they will be, what they might want to get involved with, who their friends are.  You might want some attention for being a star athelete or having the lead in the play, but I don't think you would want everyone staring at you because you are being put on display for having a disablity.  As good as their intentions might be, as much as they want to prove how cool she is, it basically comes down to that.  "Look at her, she is autistic!"  At that age, isn't everyone just trying to fit in?  Most of us are trying to fly under the radar, not draw attention to ourselves. 

As far as I know, this hasn't happened to my daughter, but I know there have been plenty of times that family and friends have wanted to "show her off" to others.  They are proud of her and her accomplishments, as much as I am.  They want everyone to see how far she has come, or they want to show how friendly or outgoing she can be.  So Katie has been the "show pony" from time to time.  She has been brought out and trotted around, has done a few tricks for the crowds.  It can be a little bit weird for me when this happens, but I have come to the conclusion that no harm is done by this in a smaller setting like a family party or church picnic, that sort of thing.  I do believe that I would be just as uncomfortable as my friend is with her being brought up on stage for the whole school to look at as an inservice was being conducted.  Of course as a mother, sometimes we think we might be overreacting, but I told my friend that I felt exactly the same way she did.  That is what is so nice about having other mothers in the Autism world.  When we have problems or feel a bit queasy about something, we can bounce the problem off each other to see if we are being unreasonable, or if we are right on. It is so much nicer having confidants that understand what your Adventures in Autism are all about. 

No comments:

Post a Comment