Barb over at Awalkabout weblog had an interesting post recently, Have you played the "A" card?, about her experience calling in the "autism card" to get a bit of special consideration and accommodation for her children. Barb asks, is this OK? Her conclusion is that it is, since without some special accommodation her children would miss out on great experiences, such as rides at Disney World. Another point Barb makes is that we parents have plenty to deal with and could use some help from others now and again.
Barb also wrote about telling others her child has autism in response to glares and nasty comments: "And sometimes you just drop it to make the complaining person feel like a heel. (We’ll add up the karma points later.)" Are there any of us who haven't been there, done that?
I had a recent experience where I didn't deliberately "hide" Sayer's autism but somehow it didn't get written down on a health form. Sayer's right arm was hurting last Monday, and since he broke it last spring I took him in to an orthopedic clinic to have it looked at. It was a new place since we had to switch from Kaiser to new insurance ( just when I FINALLY figured out the Kaiser system, but that would be a different post).
When I registered Sayer for services I mentioned to the clerk that Sayer has autism (by spelling it = little pitchers) but I didn't specifically say to write it on his form. Well, about 30 seconds down the hall to the examination room the nurse could clearly tell something was "off". I guess Sayer can "pass" as neurotypical at the playground but not in a busy clinic. Maybe something about trying to locate all the urinals on the premises?
As soon as we sat down the nurse asked something to the effect of, what's the deal? I mouthed the word "autism" to her and she seemed visibly relieved that I was up front; she said "Oh, that's so helpful to know."I got the feeling other parents try to somehow hide or not mention their kid's special needs. I really don't understand why; I agree with Barb that our lives are challenging enough so why not take a "pass" when you can?
The nurse jotted "autism" on Sayer's form, and while it still took an endless amount of time to wait for the x-ray results, we did get some special treatment. It turns out Sayer did NOT rebreak his arm but it may be a growth plate issue so to be on the safe side they opted to put on a cast. Ironically, they offered to put the cast on in the private examination room but Sayer was QUITE determined to go to the "big room" to get his red cast.
All in all, the 2 1/2 hour experience seemed like an eternity, but we survived. So, how about you - do you play the disability card with your children or try to carry on as if all is "normal?" Or does your approach and reaction differ by the situation? Please share your stories.