A MUM revealed she was so hurt by a fellow parent ‘swatting’ her autistic toddler in a playground after he gently pushed her daughter, she went home and sobbed.
Stephanie Hanrahan, originally from Florida, America, shared her traumatic experience while in a park with her son, Eli, two.
She explained her “physical” son was still learning to navigate the world in his own way, and had begun pushing people, which Stephanie was trying to teach him is “wrong”.
Stephanie, whose daughter, Campbell, four, also has autism, explained Eli expresses himself through pushing, and before she could stop him he’d shoved a two-year-old girl.
She says she immediately met the mum’s eye and apologised.
But rather than understand that toddlers sometimes push each other, Stephanie said the girl's mum “swatted” her son away.
She told Kidspot: “After she batted my son’s hand away and ignored my apology she also told her child not to accept his.”
Stephanie said she’d been teaching Eli to follow up pushes with high-fives, as a “replacement behaviour”, and a way of saying sorry.
The fellow parent instead steered her daughter away, with Stephanie saying: “His high-five was left unmet as the other mother shooed him away and said aloud to her young, impressionable toddler, ‘You don’t have to touch him, Honey’.”
She was “crushed” that the other mum decided to turn away, adding she thought all parents were “on the same team”, trying to teach manners and values to children.
Her behaviour affected Stephanie so much, she admitted she went home and cried.
She added there way no way the other mum could have known, but the day before she "swatted at my son",he had been diagnosed with autism.
Stephanie, whose husband has a failing heart, received the bombshell
news the day before their park trip.
After receiving the diagnosis, mum-of-two Stephanie decided to take him to the playground to “play with his peers”, to try and find some sense of normality and “acceptance”.
Stephanie, who regularly blogs about her family life on Tinkles Her Pants, and a Facebook page, explains it can be hard for people to understand her children as they have an “invisible” disability.
She vowed in the future to stand up for her son, and to use her voice while he can’t, and to teach her son that sometimes people might misunderstand him.
But she reached out to other parents, asking if they could “push
themselves” to be more accepting.
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