Rant Alert!!! Do you know what I'm sick and tired of....shops advertising "Autism Friendly Days". For a few reasons.
1) There are literally thousands of different types of syndromes, conditions, spectrums and illnesses that make up the special needs world. Where are your "friendly" days for them??? How long do I have to hang out for a "Down Syndrome Friendly" day or an "ADHD friendly" day.
2) Are you only friendly to children with autism on that one day? Are the parents to be grateful for your generosity? Are you donating a percentage of the profits for that day to a charity involving autism?
3) What experience of children with autism do you have? Are you aware that not every child will appreciate your version of "friendly". That a child with autism is a child first, with individual personalities and individual likes and dislikes. Have you covered them all?
4) How exactly are you friendly? Lights turned down low? Music quieter? Anything else? No? You think that's enough? Let me educate you, you will need (at the very least)...
Enough staff so no child has to wait.
Heightened awareness of hands, feet, heads, any part of their body they can use to hit out.
Wider aisles for wheelchairs and buggies.
Enough parking so that children sitting in buggies cant pull stock over onto themselves (Toby's favourite trick).
A basic understanding of signing lamh.
Remaining calm in the face of meltdowns.
Keeping all conversation at a literal level.
Having the ability for empathy NOT sympathy with the parents.
Knowing that any child you start a conversation you will have to see through to the end. Killing the conversation to serve someone else can be very frustrating for the child.
And lastly, stop handing out bloody lollipops and balloons, you've no idea how a child will react to either, and I have to choose between a tantrumming child or a half licked lolly stuck to my car seats and another child freaking at the balloon floating around!!
The point I am making is that it is impossible for shops to meet the criteria, so an "Autism friendly" day is not only discriminatory to other children with special needs but also factually incorrect. So stop it. Your ignorance makes my blood boil.
P.S. There are some children that will only wear clothing with no seams, zips or buttons. Only wear shoes with no laces or velcro. Only eat food that is brown. I assume you have this covered....
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