I was over the moon today to see someone had posted on Facebook looking for a young lady who had helped her with her autistic son in our local Asda.  The little boy was really upset and grabbed onto on a passing stranger, the stranger then offered to stay with the mother and son to make the shopping trip easier for them.  Since the incident the little boy has been asking to see her again.  Given that our autistic children sometimes have trouble forming relationships its lovely to hear.

Take a bow Calli Tully the helpful stranger.

I’m a great believer in paying it forward, if you can help someone do it!  Calli has experience with autistic little ones so was unfazed and happy to help.  It’s so lovely as a mother of a child mid meltdown to see someone who gets it and is willing to help – it helps zone out the calls for a good smack, straight to his room, spend a day with me i’ll straighten him out.  I’ve heard them all from judgemental dickheads who assume that shitty parenting is to blame.

I have friends who have asked me what they should do if they see someone struggling with a child.  Most of my friends and family can spot a meltdown now.   Big question is – is it seen as interfering?  For me no it isn’t.  I appreciate any help I can get when Reilly is in full flow.  My bags are often in a discarded trolley or dropped on a floor somewhere usually complete with phone and money.  Sometimes just having someone to talk to while you attempt to calm the situation is good, move your focus even if it’s just for a minute.

This is my list of things I would find helpful:

  1. Don’t judge!  If my child is kicking off, making noises, jumping, biting things or behaving in a manner which you think is odd don’t look at me like i’m a parenting failure.  Sometimes these behaviours are the child self regulating and coping with the environment in their own way.
  2. Let me in!  If you are at a checkout and i’m behind you PLEASE let me go first.  Time is everything and every second counts.
  3. Come with me! Walk with me to the car/bus stop.  An extra pair of hands is invaluable if you’ve got a meltdown and a runner.  It’s near impossible to juggle the lot.  5 minutes out your own day could make a world of difference.  Offer a lift if its needed and you can.
  4. Defend!  Hear someone making comments ask them not to be so rude it adds to the pressure to calm the situation when others are standing over you all self righteous (yes it does happen).  I can guarantee walking a mile in my shoes will leave them in need of a weeks holiday, a spa day and a new pair of shoes to boot. (Not so important for me as I have mastered the art of the death stare sometimes accompanied with words that end with off).
  5. If I look like i’m going to cry offer a shoulder. I’m at breaking point and it’s best to haul ass and get the hell out of there by any means necessary.

I appreciate not all parents will feel the same as me but if you see me and Reilly and i’m struggling don’t be shy.  Even just the nod of knowing, that look that says ah bless you both can be enough to muster a bit more resilience and move on.