Online parenting advice and news site Mumsnet have just launched their campaign called This Is My Child, which aims to support parents with children with special educational needs.
The campaign, launched on August 17 aims to eradicate misunderstanding about children with special needs, and is welcomed by the charity Mencap.
It draws on NHS information on conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and includes comments from families of children with the conditions and from specialist charities and lobby groups.
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders are one of the most widely misunderstood by by-standers and onlookers. The Guardian journalist Joanna Moorhead, spoke to Jane McCready, mother of ten year old Johnny, who has Autism. Ms McCready, 49, said:
“Children are one thing, they don’t know any better. But these are adults. They look at Johnny and their mouths fall open and they just stare. And I think: didn’t anyone ever tell them how rude that is? He looks like any other child, but he behaves oddly – for example, he might sit there banging two toys together – and he sometimes makes strange noises. I’d feel 300 pairs of eyes on us – all watching us, all judging us for being disruptive and difficult. Perhaps the worst day was when, at the swimming pool, another mother pulled her child away from Johnny “as though he had something catching.”
Ms McCready is most certainly not alone, another mother, Jane Swindel 33, from Essex and mother to Sonny, 5 and Scott 8, both with Autism Spectrum Disorders said:
“Until quite recently I lived on a small cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Romford. It was early April, and my husband was away working for the night. Sonny wasn’t very happy about going to bed because my husband wasn’t there, and was being quite vocal about it, Scott got upset too because he didn’t like the noise as he’s very sensitive to noise. It went on for around half an hour, and the next thing I knew the police were at the door, because the neighbours had complained. I was absolutely speechless that I had to explain. It was really intrusive, and embarrassing. “
There are around 770,000 children in the UK with a Special Educational Needs diagnosis, but there is still an attitude from some people that bad behaviour is just a ‘fashionable excuse’, because they just don’t understand Autism and Autistic behaviour.
Adam Frank, 41 from Knutsford, single father to Joseph who has Autism said:
“I couldn’t take Joe anywhere when he was younger. He would just get upset, so shopping and things that other parents do became a logistical nightmare. When I would take him shopping, then he would stand and physically thump himself because he was upset. I remember one lady telling me that I should control him, which basically stopped me from going anywhere with him for a long while.”
The campaign gives useful advice to onlookers and by-standards, mainly, don’t be judgmental.
Mumsnet will be hosting a live webchat with Cloud Atlas and The Reason why I jump co-author David Mitchell on August 21 as part of the on-going campaign.