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Thread: Intolerance and Ignorant Behavior

  1. #1
    mrs.b is offline Count / Countess
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    Default Intolerance and Ignorant Behavior

    While I worked on homework on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my husband took my son to the grocery store to pick up a few things so we could have a lazy barbeque this evening. My son is Autistic (high functioning, Asperger's) and has a few behaviors that unsuspecting strangers probably take as annoying, but it is not something he can control all of the time, and not something we can always stop without causing larger issues. One of these is repeating himself, often dozens or more times, rarely in anything more than a whisper or normal speaking voice, but he'll say the exact same thing over and over. We tend to ignore this one, particularly when he's in a happy mood, because it doesn't hurt anything and it tends to make him agitated and self-conscious if we do address it, particularly in public. We typically let it go, and he chirps about whatever he feels like chatting about. No harm.

    Anyway, while at the checkout line, he started this repetitive behavior. As usual, my husband replied where replies were warranted, but focused primarily upon getting things on the belt and checking out. The girl at the register talked to my husband, but the girl bagging had this conversation with my husband:
    Bag Girl: He repeats things a lot.
    Husband: Yeah, that's him.
    Bag Girl: That's really annoying.
    Husband: (shocked) He's autistic.
    Bag Girl: Yeah, he needs to grow out of that.

    Luckily, my husband is the more reserved of the two of us, and I wasn't there. Also, luckily for the bagger girl, our son was in the zone and did not hear her, else he tends to get very self-conscious, withdrawn, and we go berserk on whoever opened their mouths (husband being reserved or not). Since our son did not hear, my husband chose to let it go for the moment, rather than make a scene, demand to see a manager, or cause a stir because he did not want to upset the kiddo. Instead, when he got home, he wrote a note to the store suggesting they address the little bagger girl's attitude and educate their people on tolerance.

    Is it old school of me to recall my mother telling me over and over, "If you do not have something nice to say, say nothing at all"? Where did that sentiment go? This is neither the first time, or likely the last that we run into an intolerant, ignorant idiot that forces us to exercise undue self-restraint, but it is becoming a more common occurrence and makes me wonder what also happened to "think before you speak." We know life will not be easy and our son will probably have to put up with people like this for the rest of his life, but goodness, I don't know that I've ever felt a more violent urge than I do right now, and thought I'd vent upon you unsuspecting passersby. In short, if a kid is otherwise happy and keeping to himself, not screaming or otherwise raising his voice like some in the store tend to do, not running through the aisles (he's not allowed to wander more than arm's-reach from us when he's out)...a good rule of thumb is to keep quiet. He would have been through her line in less than two minutes and no longer "annoying" her, but now, we're getting in touch with their corporate management and hope the little ignoramus is fired. If we see her there again, there are other stores to do business.

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    ryoder is offline King / Queen
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    Try not to let it get to you. Kids say mean things all the time. Its a sign of their immaturity and given the right guidance, they will grow out of it.
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    I applaud the fact that you and your husband understand and love your boy so much. In my line of work I deal with kids suffering such a condition from time to time. The parents make all the difference, sounds like your son was blessed with god ones.

    Sorry you had the bad experience.
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    mrs.b is offline Count / Countess
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    After just hanging up with the store manager, it's now out of mind. They said it is not the first complaint about her, but the most severe. She wasn't a kid, or I would have had an easier time disregarding it (though the "kids say mean things" excuse is easier to agree with when it isn't my kid, as most parents will probably agree). She was in her late-teens or early-twenties, certainly old enough to know better. She said she had to speak to the main manager, but she promised it would be handled. We'll see. Socialization is an issue for him, particularly understanding "mean things," so if she's there the next time we go, it will not be a problem either way. There are other places to shop where our kid won't get treated poorly.

    Rebel, we're just parents, neither good nor bad. (Certainly with our flaws and mistakes!) We're just, shall we say, hyperprotective, given his particular challenges. He's not broken or in need of fixing. My husband likes to explain Autism as the difference between Windows and Linux; most people know and understand Windows, so anything else is wrong and less functional, but if a Linux user learns the system and how to do things in an environment where Windows is expected, they can still do everything needed and excel. (Oversimplification, perhaps, but we like it.) He's a good kid, with his quirks like every other kid. We just get a little, um, aggressive when it comes to intolerance...though we know it's going to happen. It still doesn't mean we have to like it!
    Last edited by mrs.b; 11-05-2011 at 05:39 PM.

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    Wow, sorry you had to deal with such ignorance, that's ridiculous. Too bad you can't fix "stupid"...and there's a lot of it out there in the world.

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    She was in her late-teens or early-twenties, certainly old enough to know better.
    I wouldn't necessarily assume that. People of that general age can be amazingly ignorant and I wouldn't be surprised if the girl didn't even know what autism was.

    I am glad to hear that you feel a bit better now. My wife's brother has autism. Now, he's not high-functioning at all, and his behavior tends to make people a bit edgy, even family members. But he doesn't seem to mind people's reactions and generally is in pretty good spirits! Frankly, a lot of people could learn a thing or two from his demeanor.
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    mrs.b is offline Count / Countess
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbanta View Post
    I wouldn't necessarily assume that. People of that general age can be amazingly ignorant and I wouldn't be surprised if the girl didn't even know what autism was.

    I am glad to hear that you feel a bit better now. My wife's brother has autism. Now, he's not high-functioning at all, and his behavior tends to make people a bit edgy, even family members. But he doesn't seem to mind people's reactions and generally is in pretty good spirits! Frankly, a lot of people could learn a thing or two from his demeanor.
    By the time I was in my mid-teens, I had at least seen the Special Needs kids at school and had enough minor interactions to know the word. Most others I've spoken to did as well, and given how many more cases there are these days versus then (I'm not an advocate for the vaccination argument, I think it's more a factor of general education and awareness that has increased the diagnoses and visibility), it's hard for me to imagine someone of that age would not at least have passing knowledge to know it is a disability.

    Like your wife's brother, my son is usually very cheerful, and happy when he's in his own little world. When he does recognize others are talking about him, however, he gets very upset. There are a few other children in his alternative classroom (he's mostly mainstreamed but does visit the other class when extra support is needed) that are further along the Spectrum, and I think that cheerful, good spirit is a trait. I've wondered if I'd have an easier time being more easy-going about intolerance like this if he were more oblivious to it. What upsets him (or could upset him) upsets us, though. I don't know how many times I've been almost jealous of his carefree, happy personality. I'm happy in general (when the kiddo's happy mood isn't threatened), but he takes it to a whole new level.

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    I understand your hurt and disappointment at the rude comment, but did you consider that this girl might have a disability too? If you look at my son he "looks normal" and our local supermarket might hire him to bag. Part of his problem is he does not always think before he speaks and he might say something like what this girl did. He might not remember he acted the exact same way when he was younger. I am not saying you are wrong to be upset, but consider where it is coming from, I would think a grocery store bag girl is not a job for some one of the highest intelligence.

    On the other hand if it was my son and I in the line I probably would have said something like. "He might grow out of this habit but will you ever grow out of your ignorance?" As mothers I think we are more sensitive to what others say about our children.
    Last edited by Lindagerr; 11-05-2011 at 06:33 PM.
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    mrs.b is offline Count / Countess
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindagerr View Post
    I understand your hurt and disappointment at the rude comment, but did you consider that this girl might have a disability too? If you look at my son he "looks normal" and our local supermarket might hire him to bag. Part of his problem is he does not always think before he speaks and he might say something like what this girl did. He might not remember he acted the exact same way when he was younger. I am not saying you are wrong to be upset, but consider where it is coming from, I would think a grocery store bag girl is not a job for some one of the highest intelligence.

    On the other hand if it was my son and I in the line I probably would have said something like. "He might grow out of this habit but will you ever grow out of your ignorance?" As mothers I think we are more sensitive to what others say about our children.
    I did consider it, albeit after discussing with the store manager and learning they'll likely fire her. Some friends came over for the barbeque, asked what took me so long on the phone, and when my husband explained, one of our friends said, "That attitude is why she's bagging groceries and not interning somewhere," and it dawned on me that it might not be the only reason. You're right, it's a possibility. As a mom, I admit I do get caught in the mindset that my kid's concerns are more important than others'...and that will probably always be the case. I'm not sure if it's right or wrong, and I don't want others to be hurt to benefit him, but his happiness and well-being will always be more important to me than others. We're extremely protective, and tend to shelter him from the cruelty out there where possible, but he's so happy and carefree (I wasn't agreeing with jackbanta's observation of his brother-in-law for the sake of it, this kiddo is almost inspiring on how happy he can get about the smallest, most insignificant things...friends and family get as protective as we do for that same reason) and we want to ensure that happiness and carefree personality remains as long as possible before the "world" does what it does to people. We certainly don't and can't eliminate it, public school being what it is and kids his own age not knowing better yet, so he gets hurt more than we'd like.

    If this girl was or is also disabled in some way, I do hope she also has supportive people behind her to push her rights; if she's employed, she has right to accommodation. Such as a job somewhere where her traits will not disrupt the workplace, like the bakery where there's limited interaction with the public, or receiving deliveries. As an employer as well, that does have some disabled individuals on the payroll, there are almost always accommodations that will suit an otherwise capable employee but not hinder good business service. If, however, she's just ignorant and hasn't figured it out to keep quiet when a stranger hasn't asked for her opinion, it's an important life lesson it seems she's likely to learn soon.
    Last edited by mrs.b; 11-05-2011 at 07:23 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbanta View Post
    I wouldn't necessarily assume that. People of that general age can be amazingly ignorant and I wouldn't be surprised if the girl didn't even know what autism was.
    No one in this age group is that ignorant unless they want to be. That is completely inexcusable. Even before she knew he was autistic, no one in a service job like that should ever address a customer about their child's behavior in that manner (unless there's a serious issue that needs to be dealt with, etc). After she knew he was autistic it should have been stumbling-all-over-myself-apologizing.

    Calling the manager was definitely the right thing to do. She needs to get her act together ASAP. In the long run you may actually be doing her, not to mention the store, a favor.
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