To The Lady Who Thought He Was 'Naughty'

A picture could tell a thousand stories but let me tell you mine.

I took the below picture today in the supermarket after I'd dragged my son to do the shopping with me - against his wishes. To an outsider, it may appear that he is naughty, a spoilt brat, having a temper tantrum. But even if that situation is correct, what gives you the right to roll your eyes at the mother who's attempting to calm her child down? 

An upturned lip, raised brow and an eye roll might make you feel empowered or superior but how about you remember that, actually, you're clueless as to the situation and, frankly, it is you that's embarrassing yourself, not me.

You see, this is the picture taken today....

A symptom of hyperacusis: a reduced tolerance and increased sensitivity to everyday sounds in your normal environment.

It's a mid-meltdown snapshot of a 6yr old autistic boy with hyperacusis.

Whilst it may be easy for us "norms" to phase out of earshot any background noise, this boy simply cannot. He has real issues in trying to deal with the different levels of noise happening all at once. Sometimes he is absolutely fine with music, but when it's identifiable (i.e. a song with words) on top of loud chatter and hustle and bustle, it causes complete and utter fear and terror, rendering my lovely boy a jibbering, quivering mess. It absolutely breaks my heart to see him like this

Was I mean to take him to the supermarket? His consultant paediatrician has advised that it could actually be detrimental in avoiding such places altogether, so no. I don't think so. It was busier than I had anticipated so perhaps I had chosen the wrong time of day. I wouldn't normally put him in such a situation but I had no idea it would be so busy. By the time we get half way around the supermarket, he is perfectly fine. The music is not so loud, he is happily preoccupied talking about his little obsession that is 'all things numbers', the fridges and freezers have a boring drone, which he quite likes - "ah, now we get to listen to hummmmmmmm" is what he actually said! This is some real progress.

Was I mean to take the picture? No. I realise that explaining what happens is not the same as seeing it. When someone doesn't understand just how much of an impact that this can have on your normal everyday life, it is easy for them to imagine that perhaps I exaggerate as to why I "can't do this" and I "can't go there". If someone is observing this 'behaviour' in a supermarket then I guess it's also easy for them to assume that I'm a terrible mother with a terribly behaved boy making a terribly holy show of ourselves. Fine. I do get that. 

But, if you're reading this then please remember that not everything is as it seems, so don't be so quick to judge (or direct your eyeroll in my direction!)

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49 comments:

  1. People are just too quick to judge these days. Sorry that you had to experience this

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    1. One of them things I guess. It'll never change. Sad isn't it? Thanks for the comment xx

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    2. One of them things I guess. It'll never change. Sad isn't it? Thanks for the comment xx

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  2. Bless him :( People just love to make themselves feel better than others (totally forgetting the time they probs had to pull their child along the floor by their arm because they refused to carry on shopping - also referring to myself here haha)
    And no matter what time you went up there today it was chocka from 9am so it would have been the same all day for him - nothing you could have done to change that x

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    1. Haha! Indeed! Thanks for your words becci hun xx

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  3. I can completely relate to this, I have ADHD and get really anxious, it used to be a really bad trigger for me when I was younger, when we went to supermarkets I remember everyone staring at me. commenting on how terrible my behaviors was, these things happen. Unfortunately people are ignorant. I hope little man is ok, he will learn to cope as he grows. Much love. xx
    steph | www.raisingemily.net

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    1. Aw you poor thing, how awful. Carson is fine. He's a sensitive soul but moves on easily :) xx

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  4. Its very easy to judge people, you never know the very reasons for their behavior in that moment. Unfortunately that wont changed, some people just like to point fingers.

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    1. deep down i know that's true. Sad hey? Thanks for commenting xx

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  5. I know its hard but you are doing the right thing by taking him to the supermarket and I know it would be so much easier for you all to give up and stay in the safety of home. I can tell from that photo that your son was being overloaded, but that's only because I now have experience on my side. I too get the looks, all we can hope is by taking our boys out more people will slowly be aware. Sending hugs x

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    1. Thank you jane, your support is tryly appreciated :) x

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  6. Aww:( Although I didn't know about hyperacusis until reading this, it's so true that people are too quick to judge without knowing what is going on, which is really sad:( I hope he'll be okay! x

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    1. He'll be fine isabella - it's normally me who's left traumatised, not him lol! Thanks for commenting Xx

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  7. My daughter has tinnitus and I think there are devices which help retrain hearing or at least help. Hopefully he will learn some coping mechanisms. What about taking some headphones & player that would drown out all the other noises, to use when he's showing signs that he can't cope.

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    1. Hey maya, sorry about your daughter's situation. I tried ipod and even ear defenders at one point but was royally told off for doing that! Because he is so young, it is the best time to coax him into refocussing his thoughts as opposed to his surroundings, rather than removing him from the situation altogether or pretending it isn't happening. I've found a simple holding of his hand and gently squeezing in a slow rhythmic beat also helps him at the moment. Thanks for commenting xx

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  8. I recently wrote a blog post about things that shouldn't happen in a supermarket and tutting was top of my list. That encompasses any judgemental noise or facial expression that is not necessary or helpful! I hope you won't let other people's stupid faces keep you down for long. If I had been there, I would have been tempted to give you a hug!

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    1. Aww bless you! Tutting is just so rude isn't it! Xx

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  9. your pediatrician and YOU are WRONG for believing that taking your autistic son to a loud noisy grocery store is okay. Plain and simple, it is child abuse and you should feel horrible for what you are doing to this poor child. He will grow up to hate you for the exposure and pain you have caused him. Don't be selfish and stupid and STOP Hurting your child. you are acting a fool.

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    2. Yep - instead keep your child locked indoors away from anything that may upset them (also beware of Disney films as some aren't happy all the way through) and then when they are of age let them out into the big wide world and let all the things they have never learned destroy them as an adult he may hate you then but at least he never grew up hating you - least you can't be blamed for child abuse hey :D FAB Advice :) 5***** for you
      Please remember to hate yourself every time your child cries, hurts themselves or gets upset - it would be selfish not to - I mean, what rights do you have to decide what's best for them......you only made them, carried them, birthed them and cared for and loved them - the way you are deciding what's best for them....anyone would think they were yours!!!
      Poor Carson - I mean there are children all over the world with abusive parents and Carson gets stuck with you - didn't he draw the short straw!!!
      Ppppft!!! Some people are so full of SH*T!!!

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  10. Thank you for your concerned response. I'll be sure to tell the consultant paediatrician that he is wrong and condemn myself to hell whilst I am at it. I'll also thank you for reading the post in full to see that he recovered within minutes and that he is making progress in many situations, thanks to the amazing therapy he is receiving from this terribly wrong consultant paediatrician. Cheers, x

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  11. I don't know how anyone could look at him and think he was being naughty. The picture made it perfectly clear to me (and my husband) that he was terrified. Poor thing.

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    1. Thanks for commenting monica xx

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  12. That picture does tell the story better than any words could, so no you're not mean. You care enough about him to try and help other people understand how difficult it is for him. Plus, it would be far too easy for us autism mums to spend our lives hiding away and not going out in public, because of course that's the easier option for us and them. Life isn't like that though, and unless we're happy to become recluses, we need to push ourselves at the times when we feel we have enough strength and when they are on good form (ideally!). Or even just when we are desperate for some milk for our cuppa! So no-one else has the right to judge, no-one else lives and breathes how it is to live with your son. Try not to feel guilty though, you are not doing anything wrong x

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. :) xx

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  13. I don't think he has hyperacusis. I think he has some kind of sensory processing disorder. If he had hyperacusis, he would not recover quickly halfway through the store; he would worsen.

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    1. Hyperacusis is indeed a sensory processing disorder. Music is inaudible when u hit the centre of the store which lessens the intensity, and his therapy is centred on a refocussing of his thoughts as opppsed to his surroundings. (hence using his obsession, numbers, to distract and defer focus) It's very difficult but we have come a long long way in the last 2 years. I've done things incorrectly in the past, inadvertently, like using an ipod or ear defenders - i thought i was doing well but it was a biiiig no-no from the doc as it's that kind of behaviour that would worsen his condition, believe it or not. Thanks for your thoughts x

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    2. You are a complete and utter idiot! Music is inaudible! They would not physically be able to reach the centre as they have super hearing! How the hell can you say it is inaudible! Refocusing thoughts! They cannot process thoughts to refocus! I pod and ear defenders are paramount in day to day life! Go away and bury yourself in research! Was this Doctor who said no no an expert in Autism and Hyperacusis! Dobtfull

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    3. Well you must be a Bigger Idiot then - READ before you type - Music is inaudible when you hit the centre of the store - the speakers are more focused around the edges so in the middle you can hardly hear it!!!!! So how the hell can you say it isn't inaudible?!
      Are you an expert in Autism and Hyperacusis! Doubtful!

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  14. Firstly the troll above me is clearly an expert at everything apart from being a normal human being! Absolute idiot and secondly my heart broke for poor carson in that picture I know how hard you both are working to help him deal with these situations and a big well done to carson for making it around the whole supermarket and shame on the tutting woman completely out of order xx

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  15. I am the apparent Troll you refer to! I am in fact the Mother of an Autistic, Hyperacusis suffering son. My heart also broke for poor Carson as his normal human being of a Mother found it more appropriate to get her Camera out and take a picture of her son in obvious pain and then publish it on a Public Forum. My priorities would have been to remove my child from the situation not expose him to painful sound. To publish a picture like the above in a Public Forum is asking for response. My clearly expert in everthing apart from being a normal human being information comes from Consultant ENT Specialists, Autism specialists, Hyperacusis specialists and Audiology specialists! My son is currently getting TRT treatment which involves exposure to sound in a controlled manner! To start of low and built up tolerance to sound!

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    1. Look up Autism Sensory Overload Simulation on YouTube
      and you will find what it is like for an Autistic without Hyperacusis ie super hearing!

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    2. Well how about instead of concentrating on attempting to chastise others you concentrate on your own son?! #JustAThought
      Sure everyones heart broke for Carson - because he is a defenceless child who through no fault of his own (or his mothers FYI) has to live with this no matter where he is!
      Its more about making people aware of situations rather than taking a pic so you can have a good giggle with your mates later about the pictures you manage to take of your child when they were upset!
      Good idea - lets remove every child from situations that could potentially upset them, scare them or make them sad - in other words.....never buy them a pet (they may die), Trick Or Treating at Halloween is a huge NO NO (all them costumes), Disney - have already referred to this - need I say more and better pass on the local swings - they're a potential death trap!
      Each child is different - what works for one may not work for another!
      I have an uncle with Downs Syndrome - guess what - he goes out all day on his own, we don't see him some days from morning until night....he goes the gym and swims, even takes himself off to the pub - others may not be able to - should we keep him with a carer 24/7 because that's what the next door neighbours sisters cats mothers aunt does with her son as he has Downs??
      So you have all this info and you are an expert - I have 2 vacuum cleaners - don't make me William Henry hoover does it!!!

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  16. Or check my facebook page where I shared it the other day.
    If you know all about this then why are you being plain nasty? You, of all people, would know the processes that Carson and I are going through with his consultant paediatrition and consultant audiologist. As the post clearly states - a LOT of progress has been made (a lot to you and I as people going through it, nothing to an outsider) and it has taken 2 whole years of therapy. I find it incredible that you, as a person with autistic experience, state "they cannot processs thoughts to refocus". Autism is a a vast spectrum, whereby ALL sufferers obtain different elements. Hyperacusis is also different to sufferers in that some have a physical element of hearing difference and some have a mental element of hearing difference. I am truly baffled as to why you are arguing the toss when you should know more than most that autism is HUGELY varied in every single sufferer. Just because your child suffers/reacts/responds to therapy differently does not mean that it is the ONLY way.

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  17. In the environment of A supermarket they cannot process thoughts to refocus! Especially if they have Hyperacusis! Their Sensory Overload is times ten higher with Hyperacusis! Yes I am fully aware Autism has a vast spectrum! What are you saying? that some Hyperacusis sufferers have a mental element of hearing difference? THAT ii is PSYCHOLOGICAL! We as Mums dont have to argue the toss regarding AUTISM! I honestly can not believe that you have just came away with a comment such that Hyperacusis sufferers have physical elements of hearing difference and some have a mental elemenst of hearing difficultly! Now being called a troll was being plain nasty! I can not argue with ignorance. If you cannot take the heat then dont post pictures of your poor son on a Public Forum.

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    1. Go straight ahead, turn left at the end, on again for about 500 metres and duck - you will find a bridge where the rest of your 'kind' are - enjoy.
      #Troll

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    2. Your whole post is about not being so quick to judge, but you are doing the exact thing. The people commented on here that you keep calling sad, small minded, ignorant people, trolls etc. Are actually people who HAVE hyperacusis. Like myself... or who have experience with a family member with it for a very long time.

      And honestly, when I read this article, and saw his picture... it saddened, and upset me. It made me anxious, feel closed in.. like I had NOWHERE to go, to stop this screaming in my head... beause I know that feeling of being hopeless, and having noone to turn too that would or could understand my agony, or help me in that moment in a public situation like this.

      It angered me, because I would have taken him out of this situation as soon as possible. Because I know how it feels... the store might have gotten quieter, but if he does have hyperacusis the effects would still be there. Pain, in his ears/head or both.

      I am not trying to tell you how to raise your son. I am only telling you, from someone who has this, this is not what I would have done. Theres only so much noise, someone like me can tolerate without worsening, or feeling the painful affects of sound. The symptoms of hyperacusis DO vary... but one thing, that does not is this: SOUND HURTS. NOISE IS PAIN.

      Heightened environments like super markets/shopping malls/restaurants etc are torture. A small increase in sound might be helpful in controlled environments. But is painful/damaging in sudden bursts like a loud speaker in a supermarket. Even for a few minutes.

      I just wanted to share a point of veiw from someone who has this... not just an onlooker, a family member, a close friend.... but from someone who knows how it feels.

      And if it were me in that situation, I would have wanted compassion, empathy... but most of all for my loved one to help me get out of there, as soon as possible. To make me feel like its okay, that we are leaving. That its okay we didnt get our groceries. That they would put me, and my health above all that.

      I hope your son gets better. I honestly do.

      If you would like to chat more, you can find me on facebook. With this name.

      -C.

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  18. Your son is vis-ably distressed in the photo, I do hope you don't have to go through this again x

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  19. Wow. There are some pretty harsh comments here. Whether people agree or disagree with you taking a photo, it does not make you a crap mum or anything of the sort. It makes you a mum who is trying to raise awareness of a condition - I have never heard of this so it has worked. And, even if he was 'just naughty', (and lets face it kids can be - I have 3 boys who have their moments, usually in bloody supermarkets', no one should judge. It's what kids do!!

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  20. People are far too quick to judge, I know their will come a time when I'll be the mother of little one who although he may not be autistic he will have public melt downs and I will have to deal with the stares. I usually notice that people who do stare are the ones who don't have children themselves! Xx

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  21. My goodness, I found it really hard reading through the comments on this post so goodness knows how you feel. Regardless - you are a mum who loves her child trying to do what you believe and have been told is best for him, and that is truly all you can do. His little face in this photo is heartbreaking to see, I can't begin to imagine how awful it must be for both of you. But I applaud you for raising awareness because some people...like me...have never heard of this condition before now. And I will certainly remember Carson's little face next time I see a child having an apparent "tantrum" in public and think twice before making any kind of judgement xx

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  22. It's so hard to get it 'right' My daughter has Asperger's, she is the opposite to your son in that it's the quiet noise, the repetitive tapping of a pen, sound of someone eating, noises we wouldn't even hear etc that get her.
    Nicola

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  23. Oh no that's awful! Honestly, I think it's ridiculous to try to parent other people's children (except in fostering and adoption). We have no right to judge other's, especially not be a couple of moments contact you have in a supermarket!

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  24. Some people are just absolutely ridiculous when it comes to crying children. I always get looks if TL is having a public meltdown and I actually give them dirty looks back now. My mother taught me from a young age to never look or judge a child if they're crying like that in public because they may be autistic, etc. People need to learn common decency and to mind their own business x

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  25. People can be so quick to judge. It always upsets me when I catch sight of people giving a flippant eye roll, when they have no idea what has led up to a situation.

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  26. You can't beat an tut or backward glance at times of distress to really make you feel on top of the world. I'm sorry you have to deal with these people and hopefully people reading this will bear it in mind next time they see a similar situation.

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  27. It's so hard to be able to know what the issue is as a bystander, so it amazes me that people judge so much. It seems that people tut and judge at anything these days.

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  28. As someone who works in retail, I must admit I do sometimes judge too quick. I would never think the likes that she is a bad mother... I am not a mother and I have not been in that situation so I try not too judge too harshly and you have reminded me in this blog post that things are not always as it seems. Your poor boy looks so sad and I cannot imagine what he is going through and feel for you.. like you said you dont like seeing him go through this obviously you did not plan on this happening or the supermarket being so busy. You cannot predict how it will be all the time unfortunately :( I cannot believe how hard the comments on this post is. I have read through a few.

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  29. I will admit before I started blogging over two years ago I was that person that secretly rolled my eyes at the situation even though I had no back ground to it but nowadays I just sympathise

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