Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No, I hadn't heard that!

Tell-tale words from a gossiping woman. My neighbor has caught me outside, unloading the car. She and others on our street must think we are strange, coming and going at all hours of the day (therapy), digging in the back yard and not planting anything (heavy work), loads of sand in the yard (sensory and heavy work), and Connor momentarily standing on the window sill naked (showing off his stripping and climbing skills). I tease my husband every so often when we are outside and see neighbors peeking at us, "Honey, come look at what the Osbourne's are doing now!"

"Hey! Can I throw a ham at them?" he asked.

When I was young the neighbors thought our household to be odd as well and they thought correctly. My first step-father parked his Harley in the living room. He would also stand out in the yard and yell "Kick back!" at the police, that were constantly at a suspected drug dealers house but never arresting anyone. When a strong downpour of rain came with out lightning or thunder, my Mom urged us to go out with a cake of soap or a bottle of Dawn dish soap and play in it. The neighbors would also witness Mom wrapping a frozen pizza in aluminum foil and putting it on the grill from time to time. Weird as they are I still recommend the later two if you can manage it, great fun.
This particular neighbor is nice enough although a tad nosy. We stand in the yard and make small talk. It occurs to me that even though I see her brow furrow at times, looking at us outside doing "odd" things, she is still nice and speaking to us. It then hits me that I have never bothered to tell any of my neighbors about Connor's diagnosis. Not that it would stop them from thinking we are strange, but I wonder if it isn't something they should know.

So how do I bring it up? It would never do to follow up "Nice weather we're having." with "Connor has autism." I wait for an opening and she provides it.

"So how are the kids doing in school?" she asks
"There doing great. Connor is starting school this year too. Although it will be later in the year. They have a lot a placements to work out yet for 3 yr olds."

I know that she knows that school programs in this area are not provided before kindergarten unless it is for special needs or you have a low income. I see the wheels turning and I wait. Right before smoke pours out of her ears she looks at me, eyes bulging and looking scandalized.

"Connor has autism." I explain
"No, I hadn't heard that!" she exclaims. I can't tell if her look is that of shock and concern, or shocking glee of being handing a juicy tid bit from the horses mouth.

I excuse myself "Lots to do, car to unload. Nice talking to you."
As I continue to unload the car of children and various belongings, that phrase keeps playing in my ear No I hadn't heard that! and I start laughing. It sounds like maybe she has heard alot of things about my family, just not that.


Self employed mum said...

I have to admit when my daughter went to playgroup, there was a young, wild, silent boy, who was constantly on the go, his mother was always laid back and let him carry on, it was only years later when she came to order his school uniform that she told me he had been diagnosed as autistic. All these years I thought she had a lack of parenting skills, how wrong I was. It all became clear then. People judge you by the behaviour of your children, autism has no visible signs. I'm sure your neighbour will have lots of questions next time you meet and the rest of the neighbourhood will know soon enough too LOL x

Michelle O'Neil said...

She is a good one to give the info too. She will inform others. Embrace her, fill her in, and thank her for her compassion. she could turn out to be a great ally.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I often get fed up having to explain to people about autism and the lack of signs Amy portrays. "You would never know," or better still, "she looks perfectly normal to me."

She is normal. She is Amy.

Crystal xx

Casdok said...

Ditto Crystal Jigsaw!