The rattle of the letter box in the mornings brings dread to so many households right now, and you have a child with special needs, and especially if you have a child with autism, it could bring the bad news that the Department of Social Protection wants to review whether or not your child is still entitled to Domiciliary Care Allowance, the only payment given to many families in Ireland in recognition of the extra costs of rearing a child with special needs. Many families have had this allowance cut off, and as well as the financial loss, it shows a complete lack of understanding of the needs of children with autism.
And one Mum in this position has this challenge for the faceless decision-makers in the Department of Social Protection...
For just ONE day, say what you want to say. Don’t think of the feelings of others, just say the first thing that comes into your head. Do things just for yourself, don’t interact with those around you even if what you are doing is affecting them, who cares, if they don’t like it they will just have to adjust.
For just ONE day, don’t reciprocate conversations, don’t make eye contact with those talking to you, stand just that little bit too close to the person talking and, every now and then, when they are in mid- sentence turn and walk away, or better still, reciprocate with a totally different subject.
For just ONE day, talk about only what interests you. When someone asks you a question, talk only of the subject you have chosen to talk about that day, even when they tell you they are not interested, talk only about that subject like they are not even in the room, just a monologue you need to get off your chest.
For just ONE day, when you get frustrated, no matter where you are, be it in the supermarket, the bank or in the middle of the cinema watching your favourite movie, when you get frustrated just let it out, it’s good to vent.
For just ONE day, when you are asked to complete a task in work that you are not particularly happy about, fall to the floor and scream, keep it up for at least twenty minutes and every time you think of it for the rest of the day have a little cry.
For just ONE day turn your lights up as high as they will go, turn your radio up as high as it will go, turn the phones up as high as they will go, in fact turn every fan, fluorescent light up and open every window and let all the noise fill the office and then try and complete your daily tasks with calm serenity and high expectations.
For just ONE day, stick tin foil on the seams of your clothes, and sand paper to the inside of your shirt, and put pebbles in your shoes, and walk around as normal, and then throughout your day, as they scratch and itch and you just can’t take any more, just take them off, things feel much better that way.
I am asking you to do these things for just ONE day and see just how you get on with those around you, see how people see you, hear what people say to each other about you, see just how accepting people are when it comes to dealing with you and THEN and only THEN come and tell me that my child does not need any extra care or attention. When this is done, then I will accept what you say.
Reprinted with the author's permission.
Sketch on a Sunday - and a Monday and a Tuesday… I’m trying to remember to do a quick sketch every day. Here’s today’s effort.