How A Friendly Smile Goes A Long Way

how-to-tell-the-difference-between-a-autistic-meltdown-and-a-tantrumApril is autism awareness month and I wanted to share with my readers a personal story.

Have you ever been out shopping and heard a child screaming? Have you thought to yourself that the parent should control that child or gave the parent of the child an unwelcoming glare? I personally have, but after a few outings with my two year old grandson my way of thinking has changed. Maybe yours will too.

Last week, I was at a local Walmart when my two year old grandson suddenly started screaming for no apparent reason. I got a lot of dirty stares and nasty comments from other customers because it probably appeared to them that the child was having a temper tantrum, but people don’t realize that sometimes these children are not having tantrums, they may be children with disabilities like autism that are unable to communicate what the problem is. I would like to say he is autistic and having a meltdown due to being simply overwhelmed by his surroundings and can’t control his behaviour.

So before you judge the lack of parenting abilities, maybe offer a friendly smile. I found that with all the glares and comments, I became tense which intensified his frustration. These children need the opportunity to be out into the community and explore the outside world. This at times must be very scary for them and they are unable to communicate their want or fears of unfamiliar faces or surroundings. It is with outings like this that autistic children can become accustom to the change from being inside a home to being in common environments like a Walmart or a grocery store.   So why don’t we all do our share to make shopping experience enjoyable for all. Giving a Friendly Smile or words of encouragement helps the parent through an emotionally difficult situation.