You’d think they’d get it by now. We went to a family get-together and sometimes I just have to shake my head and wonder why we bother. At these sort of things, Mike tends to want to watch certain shows, usually Animal Planet. Otherwise he’s happy occupying an iPad or computer. While not ideal, it does keep him in proximity to interact with everyone there. When we arrived, Mike wanted to change the channel. No. Not happening. Instead he is made to sit and watch Professional Bull Riding. Nothing against PBR, or its multitude of fans, but really, really, who watches this dreck? As Mike asks, and then asks again repeatedly, to watch Animal Planet, I can see him get more upset; it’s under the surface but it’s there. But no; let’s keep watching a freakin’ bull riding competition, and let’s talk about it too, why don’t we? Mike shouldn’t expect to get ‘his way’ every time, but c’mon now, bull riding? And oh, by the way, why not skip over that whole explaining/talking/interacting thing so that he might possibly understand you a little better.
So Mike’s upset. He knows not to go on the computer because he’s been told not to do that on a previous visit. He wants to be left alone now; luckily there’s another TV upstairs, so he retreats there. He doesn’t want any food, doesn’t want to see his cousins, and basically feels isolated. Oh, by the way, feel free to change that channel over to the football game now that he’s shuttered himself upstairs, away from everyone. We wouldn’t want you to get bored watching bull riding.
He eventually agrees to come down to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and eat some ice cream cake. While I didn’t see it, my wife says he politely asked for a particular piece (the corner) and was told “no”, for what amounted to be a feeble reason: ‘because I said so’.
Why the hell are we here?? If you don’t want your family in your house, stop inviting us. You have known Mike all his life, you know how he behaves and interacts, you know that he loves and respects you, and in that time, and despite all that, he continues to get teased unnecessarily, and now he’s rebuffed at each turn. It’s not like he’s tearing up the house, or is out of control; in fact he behaves better than some of his neurotypical cousins, in my opinion. Why bother opening the door if you’re going to make any member of my family feel isolated and unwanted?
My wife, understandably, was incensed and saddened by these events. The sad truth is that a stranger’s family; one that has been touched by autism, or another developmental disability gets it. Families on the Spectrum understand these feelings of anger, frustration, loneliness and dejection better than our own families do. And that’s an outright shame. It doesn’t surprise me at all why Mike would rather stay home than go out, and talk with his parents and brothers more than anyone else; we value his interactions and abilities as much as our own. I’m glad he knows we’re always going to be there for him.
We went to a family get-together. Mike was made to feel isolated. Mike ate his dinner (take-out) in the car on the drive home. Thanks for having us over. Happy freaking birthday–see you next year. (Sorry folks, they don’t make a font for ‘sarcasm’ -Ed)