Friday, June 6, 2008

Mother Of 2 Autistic Children Wishes For Understanding

A mother of two small children said she's horrified by the way others sometimes treat her family and she'd like you to help make it stop.

Christine Ferguson has two children, both with autism.

She said she knows that, right now, there is no medical miracle to "fix" autism.

Therapy helps but her children are unpredictable and often very difficult in public.

She said the lack of tolerance from others just makes it worse.

Playtime at the Ferguson's looks very typical, not what you expect from children with autism.

But that's the problem, according to Ferguson, the mother of 2-year-old Paige and 3-year-old Tyler.

Tyler and Paige are highly sensitive to their environment and their behavior can change at any time.

When things fall apart in public, as it often does, Ferguson said some people are less than sympathetic.

"They don't understand that their comments, their looks, you know, their whole act toward us is very hurtful because it is not accepting," Ferguson said. "There is nothing physically wrong with them. They perceive it as this is just an undisciplined child and they feel that it's OK to say something."

She said it gets really bad when people say unpleasant things directly to the children.

Heading home isn't always an option.

"If I left the store every time my son did something or my daughter did something I wouldn't have clothes or groceries," Ferguson said.

She said by extending a higher level of tolerance to those with differences, her life and the lives of her children would improve. Like it did during a trip to the hair salon.

"Normally, Paige screams and she kicks and she does not want to be there. And it's a very dangerous struggle for her because she could hurt herself around the scissors or could do something that could cause harm to herself," Ferguson said.

But that didn't happen during a recent haircut because instead of becoming angry and frustrated Ferguson said the stylists at Best Cuts did everything to help.

Three stylists went to work at no extra charge and Paige was transformed.

Not only did she get a cut, she now loves the salon.

Ferguson said the women have no idea how much it meant to her.

"Everybody in the world wants to be accepted and everyone wants to know that it's OK to be who they are," she said.

"Just to know that it made the difference for someone, it definitely helps motivate you to keep doing it," salon manager Christy Bishop said. "We just have to try and be patient with people with anybody not just kids with special needs with anybody."

Ferguson said some parents with autistic children handout business cards that say, "Please be understanding, my child has autism."

She often wears a T-shirt in public that says something similar.

Ferguson said of course, some people are very understanding and helpful.

She said all she really needs is a smile or a quick glance of understanding.

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