by debi9kids on May 23, 2012

And the more I think about today’s events, the more angry I become.

If you follow me on Facebook privately, you have gotten a little bit of the story and if you follow my 365 photos, you will have seen some of this as well…

But, oh.my.God.
I am so angry I can barely see straight (and therefore might not put this in the most eloquent way).

Today, I picked Will up from school and the moment I tried to buckle him into his carseat, I knew…
I was in for a “real treat”.
Will was in a mood,
and by “mood”, I mean absolutely NOT in the mood to go shopping.

He began to pitch a royal fit as we drove away from the school and continued to scream, kick and hit at the window until I reluctantly drove through the McDonald’s drive-thru and got him his beloved chicken nuggets.
I gave in because…
I knew I had to drag him with me grocery shopping and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to literally drag him.

We arrived at the store and with a few nuggets in hand, I strapped him into the cart and entered the store thinking that if I walked briskly I might make it out before he finished eating.
That was not meant to be.

As I placed my last item in the cart, he started.
Screaming “No! No! No!”
I handed him his chewy and told him I knew he was mad and we would be done soon.
He threw his chewy to the floor and started to cry.
I quickly walked toward the register as I tried to console Will and I could feel the eyes all over me and feel my stress building.

As I rounded the dairy aisle, an older woman stood in my path.
I walked past her quickly and Will shoved is shoe off to the floor.
As I turned to pick it up, I thought the woman was going to grab his shoe and hand it to me, but instead she shook her head at Will and said to me,” Perhaps you should try parenting your son.”

Who does that!?!
I know people think it, but who the hell actually walks up to someone, a stranger, and says it!?

Unlike my normal, semi-reserved self, I didn’t hold back and said,
” He’s severely autistic. Thanks for the judgement, you *sshole.”
and I walked away.

My blood was boiling.
And Will was still crying,
unaware that he was just insulted.

I got to the registers and decided I would just scan my own groceries because I didn’t want to interact with anyone else and while I rung items up and put them in the bags,
Will unpacked them and threw them to the ground. (it’s comical now when I picture it)
Frustrated, I picked it back up, told Will to stop and behave, that we were almost done;
and I finished ringing us out.

As I walked past the cashiers standing by the self check-out registers, I heard one cashier say to another, “Spoiled rotten brat.”
I spun around with the cart and spat,” What did you just say?”
They looked at me stunned and said nothing.
“That’s ok. You can’t say it to my face? My son is not spoiled. He’s autistic.”
and I turned around and left.

I got to the van and I was shaking.
From anger.
And Will…
had finally stopped crying and was singing one of his favorite songs,
unaware of anything but the beauty of the world around him
and I was struck with just how sad this world still is to those of us that aren’t autistic.
We see the world in black and white, happy or sad, fat or thin, rich or poor.
Autistic people just see beauty, in everything.
(even when they are frustrated)

I sat in the van in the parking lot allowing myself to decompress and listening to my now happy son talk to the birds, the sky, the trees… anything really that would listen.
And I thought, how sad that all those people in the store could see was the surface and not the amazing little boy that lies within.Judge not that ye be not judged. ~ Matthew 7:1

parenting BY dummies

And, if you too are fed up with the judgement, check out these items I created (while fuming 😉 )

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari May 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Oh Debi:

I feel for you. We have experienced those same things with Curtis having huge meltdowns in stores, at the mall and other places. All due to his sensory overload issues. Roy and I have had "our moments" where we did just what you did and told them off. There have been other moments where we rolled our eyes and moved on.

People nowadays just "don't get it" and the sad part is people refuse to get educated on our children's diagnoses or anything else that prevents our children from being so called "normal". Instead they choose to judge us when they have no clue what we are going through.

Hang in there! I know your day sucked! I hope tomorrow is better!


lesa May 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I send you lotsa hugs. I know it is hard when people are insensitive buttmunches. I have had my share of meltdowns. I think the worst was dance picture day a few years ago, and all Bubby wanted was to go home. I had to hold him in a hallway to calm him down with people staring at me and whispering and making me feel like a bad parent. I felt ashamed. However, I have learned to deal with it, maybe not always gracefully, but with my head held high. I am so glad that you put people in their place. Some people are just jerks.


Pol May 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm

What a horrible experience for you both Debi. I remember the dreadful days when Benjamin screamed his way around the shops, though fortunatly those days are now (mostly) behind us now. I used to be very deliberate about asking him for eye contact (even though he wouldn't give it) as that seemed to clue most people into the fact that he had a developmental problem, rather than being naughty. Of course, as a child gets older, people do seem to be less judgemental, as it becomes more obvious that the child isn't having a "toddler tantrum"

Do you/his school use visual clue cards with Will? I've just got one of my mum's at school to use a simple visual timetable at home for shopping trips and it's been a big help for her little one.


debi9kids May 23, 2012 at 3:00 am

Thanks for the suggestion. Will's school does try to use visual prompts. Unfortunately his developmental level is too low for him to quite grasp it yet. But we do try.


Beth Zimmerman May 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I'm sorry, Debi! There is a sad truth behind this though … that too many children in our society are NOT being parented! I'm not saying that the woman would have been right to say that to one of THOSE mothers either. I don't know. I wish people in general could just learn to be kinder to each other. Hugs!


debi9kids May 23, 2012 at 3:08 am

Sad but very true. I know all too well about people not parenting and I'm sure that's likely what the "older" woman was thinking.. that I was a new-age, non-parent.
It does stink.
We (people) are so judgemental.


cat@jugglingact May 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Oh my heart breaks for you (and Will). Shocking how people can judge without knowing the full story.


kim walker May 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I am going to be completely honest, please don't hate me. The other day I was out and a kid was screaming, loudly, throwing things. This was at a craft store, and one of the few moments I got away from my own 4 kids. The mom was very calm, not disciplining the child and he was in a full on tantrum. Honestly my thought was "why isn't that mom doing something, can't she get her kid to stop", I never even considered that the child may be autistic and that there was nothing the mom could do besides remain calm, get her stuff and get out of the store. I will NEVER think that way again after reading your post. I would never say anything in the first place because I am southern 😉 but in the future I won't even think it. Thank you for raising awareness about autism, thank you for being honest about your experiences as it has caused me to look within myself and see changes I need to make.


debi9kids May 23, 2012 at 3:05 am

Kim, no worries.
The sad part is, I think we all go "there" and assume its just a tantrum. (Or, at least I used to until Will came into my life). I understand, I do and I think what got me yesterday was that the women actually said something to me, as well as Will was clearly stimming (hand flapping ) and it just made me realize how far we haven't come 🙁
Thank you for your honesty and for listening to my words. It means So much.


Mama D.s Dozen May 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm

So. So. Sorry.

Wish I was there . . . I would have given each of the women little "lesson" on special needs children, and what NOT to say to strangers.

Makes my blood boil just to think of it.



Alisha May 23, 2012 at 2:09 am

Debi, I would have been shaking as well, and I would have done the same thing, except I may have throw a few more not so nice things to say to those dill holes.

We have shopping trips like that. The looks drive me mad.

Debi, you are amazing!


Stacy Uncorked May 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

Ohhhhhh! I would have been LIVID, too. And I'm glad you said something to them – they needed to be taken down a notch or three. ((HUGZ!!))


lesa May 23, 2012 at 8:43 am

I was just reminded of something from the other day. Bubs had his Cabbage Patch Kid with him when we were at Lowes. Some lady who had three kids that were acting out made some comments about my son and his Cabbage Patch Kid. Bubs wasn't hurting anyone. He was actually being well-behaved. My point: some people just need to mind their own freaking business.


Elaine A. May 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

Oh Deb, I'm SO, so sorry. I've been there. No, my children are not autistic but they still act out and yes, in public. I had the same scenario at Target last week with my toddler and I swear 30 sets of eyes were on me because I denied her something at the register and she LOST it.

I try not to judge anyone because I've been there and those moments, well, they suck! Hugs!


By Word of Mouth Mus May 23, 2012 at 11:59 am

We could really do with a little more kindness in the world 🙁


debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm



Renata May 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hi Debi

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I think we all need to remember not to judge because someone else's parenting because we don't know the circumstances. I know I almost blew my top at someone for a simple thing a couple of days after Dad's brain haemorrhage. Thankfully I didn't say anything but it made me think that before I judge someone else's behaviour I need to know their circumstances.

You're doing a fantastic job. Keep on loving on your precious boy. God gave him to you as a gift & God never makes mistakes!




debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thank you, my dear friend.
You are so right. No mistakes. None.


Barbara Manatee May 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I don't blame you for being livid. Some people have no clue and need to keep their opinions to themselves. As a teacher dealing with tantruming students in the community, I've been accused of trying to kidnap a kid before. Really!!??

Have you seen the business cards you can carry that explains Autism and behaviors that often come with it? I think the Autism Society used to post them on their website or I bet you can search for them. I'll see if I can find them and email them to you…you can hand them out to people during times like that…at least TRY to educate them.


debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Oh my God. How awful! Never thought about it from your perspective. Lord. How difficult that must be in public.


Barbara Manatee May 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm
debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks so much Barb. That's great and you're right… Instead of me losing my cool, I should educate
Maybe.one.day people will just "get it"….


Mimi May 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

For real, I would've come unglued. I would've asked for a manager right then and there. I hope that old lady feels like freaking crap for what she did. How dare she! Who does she think she is? I would've needed a sledge hammer and something to demolish when I got home! Hang in there Deb!!


Joy May 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I don't even know how to respond Debi. My tummy hurts after reading this. I am so sorry. No one deserves that. Double hugs.


debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I hear ya. Got me feeling like I have irritable bowel when I dont. Ugh. My stomach is still in knots when i think about it.


Sharlene May 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Oh I have been there. I have actually looked at the people and asked them to take over if they think they can do a better job. It sucks.

Have you thought about speaking to the manager of that store? A clerk should NOT be speaking like that.


debi9kids May 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I have Shar and since it is a store I shop at all the time I.will likely say something.
I'm still so pissed when I think about it.


Brianne May 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

I get tunnel vision in the grocery stores and I'm the parent that tends to stop and say "I know what you're going through, trust me it gets better" because I HAVE BEEN THERE with toddlers having epic tantrums (although not autistic, still an amazing presentation of m-a-d!). I know how much I appreciated someone saying that to me when I'd be pulling a cart of groceries and pushing a stroller with two babies crying. I'm also the parent that completely refuses to leave a store til I'm done shopping and will not give into whiney kids (so it may look like I'm not parenting, but truly I'm doing a disservice to my kids and society if I pacify them for others' convenience, much better for me to ignore the crappy behavior if possible).

We had one incident at Pittsburgh Zoo with an autistic 12 year old (who at first I thought was a punk kid because he ran and pushed both kids out of the way because he wanted to stand in the spot they were in to see the giraffes). And this is where I was admittedly ugly. I said to the kid, "our children are very small, you just pushed them over, watch where you're going!!" Then I saw the mom and grandma walking towards him. I was so mad that my kids were just knocked over that I couldn't think straight so when she said "He's autistic", I did not care one bit (being honest here). She then explained more and made her son apologize to the twins, stating he was developmentally younger than them etc. I didn't get it then. Thank you for this post, Debi. I always appreciate new perspective.


Bonnie Porter May 26, 2012 at 9:11 am

I have been following your blog but never commented. I am sorry people are so insensitive. I am never sure what to do. What would you recommend. Should we try to help in a similar situation or just ignore them. Once I was in Toys r us and saw a little boy having a seizure. I did not know what to do but offered to help and his mother and I talked while she held him. I will never forget that and wish I knew how to contact her. Sometimes it seems people are just ignorant though. I have a severely ADHD son and he is very immature. While not the same as what your going through I can understand. Even my own family judges my parenting skills. It can be so hard. I wish you the best.


dysfunctional mom May 31, 2012 at 5:22 am

I am livid too. I admire your restraint; I can only imagine what you would have liked to have done (throat-punch?!?!).

Also – I just realized you're blogging again! YAY! =)


debi9kids May 31, 2012 at 6:40 am

Ah yes, throat punch would've been nice.

Yea. I've found that's definitely the problem with switching over, so many people lost my blog and I lost contact with so many of my readers and friends 🙁


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