A Day at the Carnival

The Washington Times reports from Silver Spring, MD in a personal perspective from a mother of a child with autism. What to most parents is a simple day in the park turns into a day of anxiety and frustration for this parent. The mother, Jean Winegardner, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey. Read more of Jean’s work at Autism Unexpected in the Communities at the Washington Times.

The stress that Ms. Winegardner experienced at the elementary school end-of-the-year carnival began as simple: keeping an eye on her child in a crowd. It’s something that all parents deal with. The additional stress of his autistic behaviors can be both damaging to himself and other children. Ms. Winegardner is most times unsure whether to let her child go off by himself.

On a personal level in her article titled “Autism at the school carnival” Ms. Winegardner shares how painful it is for her to see the other children ignore her child. She writes, “My kid is different than the other kids. I get that and I’m okay with it. I think my kid is pretty cool and I don’t care that he has a different way than everyone else.” It’s the other kids that see the differences and don’t see the similarities.

Many schools have integration programs that allow autistic children to learn within a public school environment with a personal tutor or shadow. These shadows help the child to learn while the environment helps with the social process. The socialization of course affects not only the child dealing with autism but their peers. Group education can help avoid in the future what Ms. Winegardner and her son are dealing with on a daily basis.

This day at the carnival for Ms. Winegardner becomes a looking glass to the future. She worries not for the great fun and giggles that he experienced that beautiful day as an elementary school child, but for the future. She knows he will notice the way he is treated as an adult. Autism education is not only for the families dealing with the disorder, but for society at large. We are all part of communities and we need to learn how to live together and respect one another.