Monday, March 3, 2014

Autism and Shoes

There is a well known metaphor about not judging the troubles of others until you walk a mile in their shoes.
There is a fair amount of justifiable bitterness among special need  parents when they are subjected to the cold eye of judgement from people who are "experts" from a very safe distance.
We have all had the tuts and the stares and, worst of all, the advice from armchair experts ("he just needs a firm hand" is one of my favourites, both implying that Finian is spoiled and that I'm an ineffective parent. That's a lot of poison in such a short sentence).
If you're a normie giving advice to a special needs parent, you're  like a Dutch person giving Algebra lessons in Japanese.
Don't fucking do it.

Which led me, obviously, to think about shoes.

Often, when a special needs person has been hurt by someone they'll wail "I wish she/he could walk in my shoes for a day".
It' s a natural reaction, but I have a problem with this.
I really hate my shoes.

try walking a mile in these mothers

I really don't have to heart to inflict my pain on someone else, no matter how frustrating they are (I use the word frustrating reservedly...feel free to replace it with a personal favourite).
People who are not special needs parents are intrinsically unable to know how every atom of our our lives have been whacked so far out of field that they have left the comforting gravitational field of planet earth and are careering madly into uncharted space.
How could they know?
It's unfair that they would assume to be knowledgeable enough about autism and the chaos of our lives to offer advice and cast a cocked eyebrow over the state of our homes and our hair.
But it's also unfair to wish them to feel the same pain as us.

Reacting to pain by inflicting pain, just creates... more pain.
None of it is good.

It's hard to be so Zen like when you're surviving on 4 hours sleep a night and you're nerves are stretched to breaking point with caffeine and  a permanent loop of Bob the Builder (in Swedish).
But it's just not in me to wish this on anyone.
Ignorance can be corrected, but pain and nastiness takes longer to heal and can burrow deeper and deeper if left unchecked.  The cycle has to stop somewhere.

I just love an over-cooked metaphor, so I'm unapologetically throwing it out there that I need to get a lot more comfortable in my own shoes, before I even consider inviting someone else to squeeze their verruca-ridden bunions into them.
I'm hard on myself in that I still strive to be like "normal" parents.
I feel shame when my nails are split and my roots are grey.  I need to replace this with compassion for the mother who doesn't have the time to sit in the salon, or the energy to paint her nails.
Not pity...compassion.

Crocs are calling my name...


  1. More compassion definitely, but I draw the line at Crocs :)

    1. Don't knock it til you've tried it XXX

  2. Totally agree with you Jean, and so very well put too. Even though we've apparently 'come out the other side' - to use another metaphor - the stares and comments of old still reside in my memory banks.

    And I don't mind crocs.... about the house/garden. Definitely easier then the Balletic red shoes above! They remind me of my points shoes from my Ballet days. Painful!!
    xx Jazzy

  3. Yes to all of the above. Mind you there is one chick who I would like to inflict pain on..... she used the r word very maliciously. I know, I know, I need to get over it! :)
    Love your choice of colour for both pairs of shoes!

  4. Hi Jean, I just wanted to say thanks. In August last year I found your 'Entitlements For Newly Diagnosed Autistic Children' on the IAA site. My son was diagnosed in September. Since then I've gone through that article one step at a time (as it's a bit overwhelming when you first go through it!) But I've literally just this minute posted away for the household benefits package and it feels like I've accomplished something. I know this has nothing to do with this post as such but I didn't know how else to let you know that you've helped me immensely. :) Jen

  5. The Sensory Spectrum is hosting a special blog hop of posts from bloggers in June and we'd love to have you participate! Just imagine a list of bloggers sharing their stories about what it’s like to have sensory challenges and what it means to have a sensory kiddo! Read more here:

    Joining in on this blog hop will undoubtedly get your blog more exposure as people will hop from one blog to the next to read the stories. I will also be tweeting everyone's stories during the month and highlighting some on my Facebook page.

    I hope you'll join us!
    Jennifer @ The Sensory Spectrum
    (and you can find me @ The Jenny Evolution, too!)