In a not so (autism) friendly world.

Yesterday was our theater date with another kid from Panayioti’s school. A very high-functioning adorable little guy. His mom is also super cool and very down-to-earth which is kind of hard to find in mothers here in Greece. I don’t want to be unfair but the majority of the moms I meet here in Athens are very high-maintenance. It might have something to do with the fact that I live in the north suburbs though. Anyway, I kind of felt bad because I chose the play and it turned out to be a sort of not so autistic-kid friendly play in that the music was really loud (even I wanted to put my hands over my ears at some point) and the costumes kind of scary. Plus the plot was a bit dragging and for a bit of an older age group. Even before the play began I got a sense it would not be a big hit because a woman took the mic and started giving us directions as to how we should behave when we’re at the theater. I looked over to my autism-mommy friend and we both rolled our eyes in unison. We had to move seats pretty early on in the play too cause both our boys got scared of the geese. Oh well. A theater date, even a failed one, is still a theater date and I love to be out and about with my little man.  I think he enjoyed it what with the 3 trips to concession stand to get him popcorn and juice and then a bar of chocolate. Afterwards, we decided to go to a cafe to get to know one another. Neither one of us has friends with children on the spectrum so it’s almost like a relief. Like, hey my kid is taking his shoes off inside the cafe but so is yours so that’s ok, kind of relief. We talked and talked and I really liked what I got to know because I met another woman who is determined and not one bit of a victim. Plus she is a single mother and that’s a tough thing all in itself even without the autism in the equation. She says her nights are quiet but hard, I can totally understand. So while we’re sitting there chatting my little guy went to another table and stood up on the table like he likes to do at home. An elderly person scolded him. Then the waiter scolded him, then there came the stares. After my short word-fight with the elderly man my new friend suggested we leave. Well, that cafe is certainly not autism-friendly I said as we left. Why? Are there cafes that are?, she asked me. And then I got stumped. I have become so used to Panayioti’s antics and quirks and have come to think of them as almost, I stress the almost, ordinary and typical that I just assume that everywhere we go people perceive them as ordinary and typical. You mean it’s not normal for a small child to go to another person’s table and pick french fries off their plate? But he’s just a kid man. Oh well. We walked for a bit afterwards and then our friends boarded their bus to go home. I thought it would be a good idea for me and Panayioti to walk for a bit but we weren’t in that great a neighborhood and I almost got scared for our safety so that’s when I hailed a cab and my little man literally jumped for joy. I will not be one bit surprised if he decides to become a cab driver later on in life. He loves them like crazy. And cab drivers usually love him back even though when they ask him his name he responds in his best Native American tribesman impression. But last night, this guy was different, bad different. First of all, he told me that Panayioti was pushing his feet in his seat and it was hurting his back which I of course apologized for and brought my little man closer to me. And second of all and most infuriating, he was persistent. He kept directing questions towards Panayioti like what grade he’s in, what team he supports and stuff like that. My little guy did not take kindly to all these questions and grunted. He knew right off the bat that my kid is special but a douche is a douche not matter what. I said look he’s tired ok? And then the jerk drove really fast. I prayed we wouldn’t be in an accident and when we finally got out of his cab I sent my worst curse his way. He’s probably at home in bed with the runs today. Hope he is, serves him right! So I guess the lesson of the story to moms with kids on the spectrum is that they’re not ready for us yet.  Hold tight, the time will come when things will be different.

3 responses to “In a not so (autism) friendly world.

  1. Hello Georgia,

    This is the first time I ever read somebody’s blog, no mention to send a comment!!! So don’t be so strict, at least not this time!!!

    I want to thank you for the flattering way you have described me and Hector. The afternoon we spent with our kids was great and the incident in the cafeteria was not enough to spoil my good mood and time. You and Panagiotis are great and its nice to make new friends. Especially those friends, who have a deeper understanding of the most sensitive parts of the other’s life.

    Greek society is a very hypocritical and narcissistic one. Only recently people started to offer volunteer work and mostly because it’s being advertised. Before the crisis charity was either for the very wealthy as donators or the very poor as the receivers, but there was nothing between these two extremes. Descent people wanted to know the first but god prevents from contacting the later. It’s like somebody, a greater power, promised to Greeks that everything will be “normal” or “OK” or “perfect” in life for ever. There will be no disability, no inefficiency; nothing will go wrong in any way!! If you happen to be different (you or you kid) then you directly belong to the doom zone. People look at you strangely, pity you and mistreat you. You are not a person. You are your misery. Maybe you have a nice personality or progressive ideas. Maybe you have an added value or you can bring something new. Foremost you are the sick or the mom of the sick. Its striking that there is no lesson to be learned. It’s depressing how low level, narrow minded people live in the country that founded civilization.

    So hope we get to know each other more and arrange a whole more fun things together.


    • Πέρη μου, τι να σου πω? Μόλις χθες πήγαμε στις κούνιες με τον Παναγιώτη μου και επειδή δεν είχε ελεύθερη κούνια που λατρέυει άρχισε ο μικρός τους διάφορους ήχους καταλαβαίνεις και μετά το πως με κοιτούσαν όλες οι άλλες μαμάδες δεν περιγράφετε, και τα ψιθυριστά φυσικά. Να σου πω ένα μυστικό? Επειδή μεγάλωσα στη Βοστόνη και γενικά βρίζουμε λιγουλάκι εκεί, πάντα μα πάντα όταν κάτι με νευριάζει ή κάτι πάει στραβά λέω μέσα μου “Fuck it”. Δεν μπορείς να αλλάξεις τον κόσμο και εννοείται πως δεν θα αλλάζαμε τα παιδιά μας με τίποτα οπότε λες ένα “Fuck it” και συνεχίζεις την ζωή σου. Αυτά. Ανυπομονώ να σας δω την Κυριακή!!


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