Valid Fears


Image shows H’s reflection in the pizza shop window. He is eating pizza, playing on his tablet, and has his Talker on the table.

Pizza date! We had “meet the teacher” this morning, which was fun. Stopped for a slice afterwards. H is absolutely terrified to go into new stores or restaurants and wouldn’t come in so I parked him at this table right by the window while I quickly grabbed him a slice. It’s so hot and humid to be eating outside but we’ll always respect his needs and he definitely needs to not be in this place for whatever reason.

If, despite my reassurances that there are no ceiling fans or loud machines, he still is terrified, I’m not going to drag him in screaming and cause a panic attack for my own convenience and comfort. We frequently abandon plans if he is upset by them, as I would hope someone would do if I voiced extreme discomfort and fear about doing something.

It’s upsetting to me when we receive advice or read recommendations to repeatedly expose children to something that gives them anxiety to make them “get over it”. Let’s please stop traumatizing autistic children by forcing them to repeatedly endure painful and upsetting situations. It’s abusive.

I’ll stick with respecting my child’s very real fears and clear (albeit non-spoken) communication about what his body and mind need to stay safe. We build trust that his experience is valid and we will keep him safe as best we can. Just because the reason might not be clear or because *I* don’t think the place is loud/frightening/bright/dangerous does not invalidate his opposite truth.

#autisticadvocacy #AAC #respect #anxiety #sensoryoverload #communication #neurodoversity

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