So, after checking the tag for my Autism A to Z series, I realized an oversight…. I had never posted my J topic. I’m not sure how this happened but I’ll attribute it to my general tendency to being scatterbrained and attempting to multi-task. Maybe this is why I should just give up that and focus on one thing at a time? Anyway, here’s my out of order J post… on how to handle judgment from others. Having dealt with this for most of my childhood and well into adulthood, judgment is one of those things that I’ve gotten used to ignoring. I try to keep with a ‘judge not, lest ye not be judged’ mentality but I’ll admit- even I can get pretty judgmental.
But how do you deal with judgment in public? What do you do or say when people are staring at your child? Here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years.
4 Ways to Handle Judgment in Public from Strangers
1. Develop a thick skin. Yes this might take some time and some of us just aren’t equipped to do so. And even those of us with a thick skin might crack. But if you learn to ignore the stares and rude comments, you just might be better off. This is a skill that requires time… and the great urge to not slap someone or make a smart remark right back.
2. Come up with a catchy comeback. This may work for or against you, but when you’re at the very end of your patience or limit of dealing with people (which can happen quite often when you’re running errands).. try to say something that isn’t too rude but also points out to the other person that you are very much aware of their behavior. Maybe they don’t realize what they’re doing… or maybe they think they’re too far away from you for you to have noticed.
My favorite, over the years: My daughter has autism, what’s your excuse?
Sometimes I get a huff… and a well I never from the other person. Sometimes it opens up the discussion to autism and a chance to inform and educate. And sometimes it just does nothing except a roll of the eyes or some other kind of reaction. Or, you could say something along the lines of: I noticed you staring, do I have toilet paper on my shoe? Or something to that effect.
3. Carry brochures or other educational material. This may work in a pinch, though not everyone will appreciate the gesture…. and if you’re feeling particularly irate, you could always use them as a weapon. I wouldn’t encourage that and only with people you know. Because, well, you don’t want to take the risk of being arrested or kicked out of the store, do you?
One of my favorite things to do in this situation is to refer them to a book. For example, one of the top picks on my books about autism for parents. Or, you could also try books about autism for kids.
4. Remove yourself and your child from the situation. If it really becomes too much to handle, remove yourself from the situation. Yes, this might not always be possible and yes- it might not always be reasonable. But if it keeps you from flying off the handle? It just might be the best solution.
If your child is having a meltdown in public, you may be a bit overwhelmed. It happens.
Remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world (though it may seem like it) and maybe try one of these calming strategies if you can.
Want more help and advice? Grab my free autism parenting toolkit!
There are other ways, of course, to handle judgment in public. And handling judgment from family members is another issue entirely which we’ll cover in another post. I’ll also talk about handling judgment of your parenting decisions so we have quite a few more ways of how to handle judgment from others.