This post contains a story about me, but it isnâ€™t really about me. It also contains my #2Son who is autistic, but it isnâ€™t really about him either. Itâ€™s a little bit about some of you.*
Itâ€™s about the looks and the stares and a bit about what I feel.*
A few days ago #2Son got himself a little anxious. When this happens he can manifest certain behaviours, they arenâ€™t always the same, they arenâ€™t for anyone. But part of it becomes a loss of the ability to communicate feelings and thoughts and a general deterioration in overall control.
Like all of us it results in a wig out, but with no way of expressing the problem or coping with the behaviour in a manner acceptable to all of us in the neurotypical realm it gets fraught.
We were at a Supermarket after being out all day, this was probably part of the issue but there were other factors. Basically a minor wigging out was turning into a complete meltdown.
We have lots of, I guess tactics is the word, patterns for dealing with this, many of them are hug shaped, but sometimes I find that silly games work.
#2Son is seven but he has an older and younger brother and we have always had silly games since he was a toddler (and I still have some silly games with his younger brother and one or two with the older more serious sibling). Games like being swung like a baby in a cradle, or the Sockle Monster who hunts in pairs, or the INCREDIBLE FINGER OF DOOM THAT MUST EAT YOUR BELLY BUTTON (emphasis intentional).
So those are what we did. In the car park, and forecourt, of the supermarket, in daylight, on a busy day. So, of course we got looks…
I am not going to discuss whether people should look or not, because of course people can look ffs. I am going to discuss what some of the looks (obviously not all of them, just the types I generally see and some of the ones today) seem to say and how I feel about them and hopefully from that you can think about how we look at people.
The Embarrassed Stare
This one is easy to spot. A stare of surprise and then a quick look away. I get it, something unusual happened, you looked and then you realised that could seem rude so you looked away.
Got to tell you, thatâ€™s fine. Itâ€™s okay to be curious and we get it, you satisfied polite social norms and all I can say is donâ€™t feel embarrassed or distressed that you may have been rude or seen as rude, youâ€™re not. So don’t feel bad and you can look.
This is a hard one to deal with. I honestly donâ€™t know how people who get glared at all the time manage not to go around punching people.
It is the hard stare. The long angry look The look that says what are you doing acting in that manner. How dare you act like that in my presence.
It may be from a mixture of fear or not knowing how to understand. It may be from a genuine distress. All I can say is that if you feel that you have to stare like this then you need to seek some help. Because nothing is going on that is a threat to you or the way you see the world. It is the way you are interacting with the world that is the issue.
The Cold Laugh
This may just be a misinterpretation, but I do see it. The cold stare with a smile that suggest some inner amusement. There always seems to be something cruel about this.
I have to say if there is an element of cruelty, if you enjoy someones distress or differences as it gives weight to a narrative of discrimination you might have, or allows you to enjoy some pleasure at their situation, then you need to seek help.
If of course you just can’t help it and this is a natural response you have then do people a favour and look away.
So this one is a genuine smile, seems to be a knowing smile. It is friendly and seems to suggest that they approve of what you are doing. It’s almost like they cheerily called well done for interacting with your child in a manner that they seem to enjoy.
You can tell I like this one. This is what I hope most of us could do. We can smile in a friendly way at each other. Even if it’s not a way in which you’d behave, if the other people are enjoying themselves, be glad for them.
So in a vague way I come to my conclusion, I am not sure I had a point or roadmap for this post just a bunch of thoughts that I have to wrap up before my reader falls asleep.
There are lots of ways you can look at people, and lots of ways I get looked at when I interact with my kids. I have a long history of being stared at, and sometimes it is when I am having fun being silly with a child and sometimes I am on my own being silly.
But what we should all probably try to do, is be happy for each other and think of how best to show that. Because you don’t know the story of the person you see being strange or different to you. You don’t always know the manner in which to interact. You may not no what the social convention is…who really does?
But you can be forgiving of their behaviour and glad for their joy.