Have you ever notice how we naturally tend to judge people without even being aware of it. Maybe a guy walks by and we look at him and think “man why doesn’t he do something with his hair”? Or maybe a woman walks by and we think “doesn’t she realize those pants look awful on her”? I know petty as it may seem we all have done it or do this on a regular basis. What about those times that we are in the store and we see a child that has an awful tantrum? What is your first thought? “Those parents need to learn to get their child under control” or “If that were my kid I’d take them home and give them a good spanking or time out”. Does this resonate with you? Have you actually gone up to the parent and made a negative comment about their parenting skills?
We’ve all heard the saying “you should never judge a book by its cover”. In life this applies to people and situations more then you may realize. Let’s go back to that child in the store and take a closer look at what might really be going on. We have a mother that is taking her child to the store. But what you don’t see or know is that this is a child with a disability. Well how can that be you say because “they look normal”. Ah here is the kicker….they look like any other child on the “outside”, but on the inside they are “wired” totally differently. This trip to the store has over stimulated the child and all the noise, lights, crowds and waiting has caused this particular child to go into “sensory overload” and they are actually in physical pain over it. All the child can do is meltdown to deal with it. So the parent is doing everything they can to try to calm the child and get them out of the store. I have experienced this first-hand as I have one of these children that “looks normal” but is wired differently. And yes I have experienced the comments and looks from those “judging the situation” and my “parenting skills”. I also work with children that “look normal” but actually have different disabilities even from my own child. There are a lot of these individuals out there in our communities.
I hope that this blog post affects us all by nothing more than making us take a moment to stop and think when we witness something out in the community with a child, teenager or adult that may seem “odd” even though they may “look normal”. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe their brains are just wired differently. This doesn’t make them any “less” than anyone else…just different.
Guest blog by Deanna Rouse an advocate and parent of a child with one of the invisible disabilities.