Update the last: Smockity posted the following on her blog on March 30, 2010:
From the very beginning, I have always wanted this blog to be a blessing, something to help others, and never to hurt. I wanted to make people laugh, even in the midst of parenting trials.
It has become evident that I have not achieved that goal. I have unintentionally caused hurt and pain and for that I am truly sorry.
When I described a situation I observed recently, I was seeing in my mind and describing on my blog behavior that I have witnessed dozens of times in my own seven children and hundreds of students during my eight years as a school teacher. The behavior I described was nothing more to me than childishness and impatience, but I can see now that the words I used were viewed as symptoms of autism and many people were offended.
The most grievous part, for me, is that this has brought dishonor to the name of Christ, and that is wholly the opposite of my life’s mission.
It is my sincere hope that this apology will bring healing and peace.
I am sure that it was a hard journey to get to that apology, which I find heart-felt. I am grateful for her apology, and I share her wish for peace and healing.
Update #5 I have heard from a friend of Smockity's that she's received emails that attack her personally for her religious practices, or which call her vile names. I fully and totally condemn such behavior, and have rebuked the commenters, below, who tread a little too close to the line of attacking Smockity's person rather than condemning her statements.
Update #4 (#s 1, 2, & 3 are at the bottom) Smockity, if you happen to come here and read this, please know that in your post you ridiculed behaviors (like toe-walking, hand-flapping, and perseverating) that many of my friends' children exhibit -- behaviors they can't control, any more than a child with paralysis can get up and walk normally, or a blind child can see. I dearly hope that you can come to imagine the hurt these parents encounter, and resolve to be more accepting and more welcoming in the future.
About a year ago, my real-life friend Squid, who has three children, one with autism, wrote a post about a very harrowing trip she took to Costco, in which her middle child (with autism) had a meltdown.
Please know that if you see a child who looks too old to be having a tantrum going into full tantrum mode, there's a good chance that child is autistic. It's okay to watch and see if the adult has the situation under control
Squid's post changed my behavior. I now always offer to help when I see a family struggling as she did with her tribe of three. I don't care any more if I'm rebuffed -- the offer matters.
The deal is here: many children with neurological challenges to their behavior appear to be perfectly normal. Until you really have the tools to see.
Which brings us to today's topic: in which a homeschooling mother of seven observed a child, and did not see. She blogs at SmockityFrocks. I want to be generous to this person, even though her post, In Which Smockity Considers Jabbing A Ball Point Pen Into Her Eye, made me feel....well, quite uncharitable.
It's possible, given that her family homeschools, and possibly where she lives, she has never met a family affected by autism. That's the most generous view.
Let me review for you some pointers that a child may be affected by autism:
- Toewalking or walking on "tippy-toes"
- Handflapping or "stims", which may help a child with autism self-regulate
- Repetitive strings of words or "perseveration".
- Urm. I'm having a hard time capturing this. OK: socially-awkward interactions
- Behavior that is appropriate for a child months or years younger than the child appears to be
In her post In Which Smockity Considers Jabbing A Ball Point Pen Into Her Eye, the 4 year old girl she mocks and ridicules exhibits all five of the pointers above. Does Smockity even consider this child might be...neurologically non-standard? Nope. It's mother's and grandmother's failure to parent well:
If you had a big mixing bowl and added 1 cup of overindulged, 1 cup of coddled, 1 cup of impatient, and a handful of annoying, stirred it up, rolled it out, and put it in a pan, your little Honeybun Adora-belle would be the tasty nugget that popped right out of the pan, and you are doing her a huge disservice in teaching her that what is not at all patient is what you call “patience”.
Sheesh. I've re-written this paragraph 10 times. Bless your heart, Smockity, that grandmother and granddaughter were doing as best they could. How about you and your children?
And: What would Jesus say about your thoughts?
Elsewhere (Updated silently):
- Storkdok: So this is what those Moms are thinking when they give me and my son "that look"
- Emily: Thou shalt not mock other people's children
- Squid's roundup post and as a reminder, her manifesto on autism-mommy-blogging
- Life with Joey Judgments Aside
- Snarky Ignorance and Autism Awarenessfrom Asperger's 2 Mom.
- We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming from I Don't Need Excuses
- What Those Snippy Typical Parents Are Thinking Behind Your Back from Terri Mauro, About.com's Special Children Guide
- Huh. When Life Gives You A Chance to Show Empathy, Get Defensive Instead from Kim Wombles at Countering Age of Autism
- In Which A Mother Chooses A Mote Instead of A Pen from AustismHerd
- All Eyes Are Upon You by Comfort in the Midst of Chaos
- I Don't Often Post About Autism by Mitten Time
- Why Yes We Are the Weird Ones by Kristina Chew at We Go With Him
- Hey Parents of Autistic Asperberger's and other ASD Kids! Some of Us Parents of Typical Kids Get It! from Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of the Time I Know You?
- Want a little challenge? from Raising Complicated Kids
- Judgement from Understanding My Son
- In Which Squillo Considers Motes and Eyes at Confutata
- I Wrote an Email to SmockityFrocks But William Erased it from Life As The Mother of Four
- Yes, This is What It Feels Like by Papa Bear at Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Maybe It's Not Paranoia from Surviving the System
- Compassionate Disapproval for the Autism-Ignorant from Fuschia with Yellow Polka Dots
- Our Mall Meltdown, or Where I Tell SmockityFrocks Where To Go from 9.39
- When Autistic Behavior Is Misunderstood by Jean Winegardener at Autism Unexpected (Washington Times)
- Oh the Joys of Judgmental People by Down The Rabbit Hole
- How A Person's Name Becomes an Adjective, by JennyAlice at Into The Woods, Living Deliberately
- Hoping that Autism Awareness Brings Compassion and Understanding, by Velvet over Steel
- Autism Awareness and the Smockity Flap, by Mom-NOS
- The Legend of Smockity by Welcome To Normal: Population 0
- An Eye for an Eye, by Rooster Calls, and Rooster Call's spouse's response to Smockity's apology
- Smockity Frocks by My Brain Wants to Go Home
- Smockity Hath Apologized -- Where Do We Go From Here?, by A Life Less Ordinary
- Smockity Frocks Has Sincerely Apologized, and I Accept Her Apology by Storkdok
- A Mocking Compassion by Corina Becker at No Stereotypes Here (also posted at Blogher)
- What Little Man Has to Say to Smockity Frocks by Heart of a Child
- Why Did The Blog Storm that Engulfed Smockity Erupt? by Life As the Mother of Four
- Apology Accepted by Heart of a Child
- A K & K Duet: Now What? at Respect for Infinite Diversity (RFID)
- The Ladies of RFID Note That Smockity Has Apologized Respect for Infinite Diversity (RFID)
- The Weaving Together of A Community: A Linkapalooza and a Kickass Kumbaya, by Kim Wombles at BlogHer and at her Countering Mirror site
- Honouring the Apology from Smockity Frocks, by Fuchsia with Yellow Polka Dots
- An apology? by Mittentime
- Smockity Apologized! by Down the Rabbit Hole
- Apology Accepted, Appreciated and Admired by Tragedy? Not in This House?
Here's an antidote to the hard feelings engendered by Smockity's words: Grace on Aisle Five, from Both Hands and a Flashlight, in which Tim encounters a welcoming person in the midst of flapping and echolaliareplacing it with:
It has come to my attention that my motives are being slandered because of what I meant to be a humorous look at life around me. I do not speak for any group of Christians, homeschoolers, stay at home moms, or anyone else, nor am I interested in defending myself to strangers who believe they can judge my character from one post.
If you are interested in spreading Autism awareness please go to this link to make a donation.
Motives? Character? No, Smockity, you were being rebuked for your public statements. And the link takes you to Autism Speaks, an organization not well-liked loathed and reviled by many in the autism community.
Update #3: If you'd like to read Smockity's original post and all the comments, it's been preserved as a Google document, here