It doesn’t happen very often, but I was offended this morning by a site I saw posted on Facebook. It’s a site that posts pictures of children other people deem to big to be riding in strollers (I’m not linking and giving them traffic). There was also a comment about needing a site for kids too big for pacifiers. With April being Autism Awareness Month, this really struck me.
My oldest had low muscle tone. His legs would get fatigued even to go to the mall and walk from one end to the other. He was within the height and weight limits, so he rode in our stroller on such trips and others where a lot of walking would be required until we had our second child when he was 5 1/2 years old. We didn’t know we were dealing with autism at the time. All we knew was that we had a child who clearly got fatigued, and had sensory issues.
Our second child who is now 4, still occasionally rides in the stroller. He is approaching the upper limits at 4ft tall, but there are a few times the stroller is still needed. He also still has a pacifier. It’s a sensory thing for him. We’ve tried all other kinds of “chewies” for him. No others are acceptable. Rather than have my child sticking other objects in his mouth, like toys, that are unacceptable to chew on, we choose to let him keep the pacifier for when he needs the sensory input. Its usage is decreasing as he gets older, but he still needs it more than your nypical (See: Be Different by John Elder Robison. I like his word “nypical” instead of “neurotypical”) 4 year old. This is the same child who has also always been WAY taller than his peers. Just because he looks 6, don’t expect him to act as such. He’s 4. Not almost 5, just 4.
If more people would worry less about what other parents are doing or not doing when the safety of the child is not in imminent danger, and pay more attention to their own kids and spread some more kindness and understanding, the world would be a much better place. If you take nothing else away from Autism Awareness Month, I hope that it’s that you’re not so quick to judge some parenting styles that you deem to be outside of your box, or what is deemed as the nypical box.