Setting Limits - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 08-15-2008, 02:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been thinking about this. I feel a strong need to set better limits with the world in interactions that happen with my son. What limits do you set and how?

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#2 of 5 Old 08-15-2008, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, here is an example:

This morning I took the kids to an art event in the park. Afterward, we walked to the grocery store and did some shopping. As we were checking out, both my kids were signing in ASL "ice cream," "ice cream" because they saw and wanted ice cream.

A kind employee of the store saw they were signing ice cream. She started asking my dfd, who was closer to her than ds was, what other signs she knew. My kids both have a huge ASL vocab, but dfd has more social interest than ds. In fact, while both kids have "special needs," the nature of dfd's special needs actually draw people into her, whereas people seem to push away from ds.

Anyway, so dfd was busy showing off her signs (which is sort of silly because this employee-- who knew some sign, as her husband apparently used to work at a deaf school-- would have been more impressed had she actually tried to have a conversation with dfd in sign rather than just quizzing her on the signs she knows). The employee and she were both enjoying it, so everything was good.

Then the employee asked dfd how old she is, and dfd said she is two. The employee turned to me and said in this dismayed, sort of hushed tone, but within ds' hearing proximity, "My neighbor has a two year old who can't even say 'mama' yet." It was the way she said it. It went beyond, "hey, I am impressed by your kid," and into the realm of judgement of the neighbor and her kid. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but the tone was just, well, one of pity...dismay...judgement...shock...??? I might have even seen a slight roll of the eyes.

So there stands ds, who the employee has completely and utterly ignored the whole time even when ds tried to start chiming in with some signing.

ds was nearing two when he first said "mama." Every word is a struggle for him. He works way harder for his words and signs than dfd does...why should she get all this acceptance and praise for having an easy time? And should my ds have to listen to people like him getting spoken about in hushed, dismayed voices?

In retrospect, I should have said, "All kids develop differently. Every kid has strengths, and every kid has challenges." What I said was (and I admit I got kinda short at that point...I was tired and hungry and crabby), "I have two kids. One who says a lot of stuff. And one who does a lot of stuff. They are all different." That's not really all that accurate. My kids both say and do things. ds has different patterns of speech than the usual, but he says stuff all the time. And dfd can do lots of stuff too...just an hour before she was braving an incredibly high climb at the park.

That's a pretty benign example. When I first wrote this post I was writing about invasive personal questions that come along, some with reason (teachers trying to learn more about how to work with ds, for example), some without (curious aquaintances and strangers). Almost 100% of the time, ds is standing right there.

But let's take this example, since it is current. Sometimes I am so caught off guard with these things that I respond inappropriately, or worse, not at all.

I'd like to shout from a rooftop that my son is a human being. A living, breathing human being who enjoys interaction too even if it can't be the canned type that works on all the other kids. He is a learning, developing human being with strengths too.

Does anybody relate? Did any of you watch this video?

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#3 of 5 Old 08-15-2008, 06:34 PM
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Yesterday my kiddos were watching from an upstairs window as our neighbors were moving. The guy's father was helping and my kiddos would say things to him out the open screened window every once in awhile. They asked where they were moving and the man said Baltimore and I said, that's where your grandparents boat used to my son said, "That's where poppy's boat used to be!" as best as he could (which to me was really good, despite dx of speech and language impairment)...the man says back, "What sort of language do you speak? That's some strange language you talk." I was appalled! I would have loved to have screamed out the window his full diagnosis, the past four years of dx and struggle with communication, his allergy issues that are just being recognized, and how it was a miracle he said that many words in a sentence to begin with. But I said nothing and distracted the kids. I think it probably went over ds's head for the most part but still. People are ignorant, rude, toxic. The best that I can do is prepare my kiddos to face such people with self confidence and boundaries. I hope to model it, but there are those who just take the wind out of you and you can't get the words out and then you realize it's probably not worth it anyway.
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#4 of 5 Old 08-16-2008, 03:13 PM
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I did watch the video and I wish all professionals especially would see something like that. And then as a parent, as a human actually, it is terrifying.

Andrew is very communicative and still, especially in medical situations, professionals talk about him in front of him as if he wasn't there. I don't know if that has to do with his diagnosis, his seeming unawareness (he is listening even when it isn't obvious), or age.

As far as how to respond I'm not good at spur of the moment/caught me off guard responses. With professionals I generally start off the conversation/appt. with "I would prefer you examine Andrew and then he's going to go out with grandma before we really talk because little ears listen to everything". It doesn't always change anything, strangely, but I do try to point out that my son can hear and understand even if he doesn't seem to be paying attention.

I also try to pointedly bring him into the conversation/interaction to point out that he's there and listening. So "yes, she knows a lot but Andrew knows signs too don't you Andrew!"

Rachelle, mommy to 8 year old boys! 

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#5 of 5 Old 08-16-2008, 06:52 PM
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This is such an insidious "issue". We live in a society that doesn't give a shit about "the weak". There are no soft places for any of us and especially our kids to fall, to feel safe, loved by others, accepted by others. People either pity us/them or are glad it's us and not them. It sucks!!!!

I advocate for my son so much, help him advocate for himself...but let's face it, it doesn't change anything in a global way for our kids. Many people are insensitive, lack empathy and perspective, or are plain cruel.

In love with Dh since 1998. We created Ds (7.1.03), Dd (10.16.06) and Dd (3.16.09).
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