The munchkin is kind.
One of the munchkins favorite activities is hiking and so now, on my “off weekends” (working single mom here) he will ask “can we go to the park please?”.
Whenever we go out anywhere every person we come across gets a “Hi!” Or a “high five!” from the munchkin. When he was younger, (around middle school as he was non verbal up until that point), this was often considered cute as he was still boyish looking and it usually amused people in passing.
That’s not the case anymore.
On our most recent hiking excursion this behavior resulted in not only looks of confusion, but severe indifference, and in one extreme case fear based defensiveness. (The guy in the last case I will presume as extremely insecure as the munchkin said hi to his girlfriend first, who happened to be walking in front of him, and she seemed to find it amusing 😏.)
In all of these cases I found myself quickly responding with “I’m sorry, he’s autistic.”
The responses to this “sudden revelation” varied, but included:
“Ohhhhh, I see”
“I was busy on my phone, hehe” (really?!, we’re in the woods?! 🙄)
Laughter and a reciprocated high five ✋🏿
(In the extreme case) A salty scowl
Can you imagine how intimidating a 15 year old, almost 6 foot tall teenager running up to you and yelling “ high five!” appears? (*Edited to clarify: This paragraph is the misperception. In case some future troll out there tries to call me out for bad parenting allowing my child to run up to strangers. 🙄We were not running! We were hiking!*)
That’s the dilemma when it comes to autism. At some point you will have an adult who in a few (or a lot) of ways is still very much a child mentally. (Sometimes I feel I’m just as much a child on the inside as the munchkin is, but more on how I came to be that way and how it works for our family dynamic in future posts 😬.)
The munchkin and I are currently working on NOT talking to strangers when we are out in public, and Im not sure there will ever be a remedy to this situation as it’s mainly an issue of perception. The only emotions and perceptions one can control are ones own. My hope is that stories like these will open dialogue about misperceptions of people with autism.
Please comment down below. How do you adapt to any (mis)perceptions about your munchkin?