A lot has been written about this post by Smockity in the Aut-rent blogosphere. It would probably be best if you followed the link to the cached version and read it for yourself. Here's my take on what was written, both in the original post and through many of the comments that came later.
A grandmother was in a library with a child who seemed almost certainly autistic. The child was waiting for computer time and could not do so quietly and patiently. The grandmother seemed uncomfortable with this situation but did nothing to stop the child's talking and asking the current computer users (the bloggers children) if they were done. This story was portrayed with great disgust for the child and the grandmother. They were incompetent and rude and not civil at all. No words of help or encouragement were offered, just silence and a seething snarkiness that was fully explained in the post. The first 22 comments (and many more later on) were all on the order of "Yeah, what jerks, and you are the greatest for not saying anything to them, but we've all been there and despise those types of people." At comment 23 someone suggested that the kid seemed autistic. There was not a lot of compassion shown at that point, but quite a bit of defensiveness.
Reading the post and all the comments made me feel awful. I have been that hapless caretaker and I have felt those unspoken words of contempt.
Guess how long it's been since msk has gone to our public library? Close to a year, but our last visit is still very clear in my mind. We were waiting in line to talk to the librarian about the summer reading program and it was too much for him - lots of echolalic speech and running around the library and frustration that would have been screaming, if not a full-blown meltdown, if I had tried to get him to quietly wait. Eventually we made it to the librarian to be met with distrust. Why, if he had really read the books we recorded, couldn't he answer questions about the books? Looks from around the library, but especially from the librarian made me feel totally un-welcome. That was it for me and msk at that library.
Since then I've rationalized about it: We have plenty of books at home for msk to read. Who needs a stupid T-shirt anyway? Who am I trying to impress with the idea that my very significantly autistic child can read quite well? The hours of this library are always shrinking and computer use by teens seems to be the only usage on the rise.
So no, we don't go there anymore. I used to give donations to the library foundation - that doesn't happen anymore. Sometimes I wonder if I imagined the bad feeling coming from others in the library towards msk and me and my parenting. Smockity's blog post helped me understand that vast numbers of parents are judging us where ever we go. Thanks ever so much.
I know that practice and exposure are what msk needs to be successful in social situations. I know that the world needs to see more of msk and kids like him to gain an understanding of autism. Sadly I can't turn off my discomfort when people shake their heads at us or stare. And msk can't stop picking up on my discomfort and becoming more and more wound up in these situations.
There are a very few outings we do regularly - weekly grocery shopping, the post ice hockey Farm Store stop, in nice weather the playground - and lately I've been trying to take him for quick errands to pick up a pizza or run for milk to the 7-11. If I can keep it low key and ignore the odd look at his rather loud echolalic speech, these go well enough. I feel like we need to do more. Given my gained insight into what people our thinking about us, I'm not sure the gain outweighs the stress.
Sorry that this post is so negative. I just can't summon the energy to put a postive spin on this. Sure, there are supportive people out there, but at this point the negative vibes are just too overwhelming.
For a listing of other aut-rent's take on this post you can go here or here.