The Autism Badge of Protection

Autism is a curious disorder. To the naked eye, it’s debilitating grips are unseen. In fact, if you’re an outsider you might think that a child suffering from Autism is plain rude and out of control. Along with safety, this is one of my biggest struggles when we are out in public.

Strangers just don’t know, and when my son is having a meltdown in Costco, I don’t have time to confront every foul look or comment. This is where Autism apparel comes in.

Shirts, bracelets, you name it, you can find anything with a puzzle piece on it displaying the fact that your child has Autism. I have coined this the badge of protection.

Think about it. You rarely, if ever, see a shirt that says: I love someone with Down’s Syndrome, but I see shirts all over with I love someone with Autism or the spruced up Autism puzzle piece displayed front and center on someone’s chest.

Everyone claims that it’s a badge of honor or proclamation of your love, but I look at it more as a veil of protection and security. If the world knows my child has Autism, this child who is making a scene in Target because the bread went in the cart before the eggs, then the judgment will be lessened. In fact, rude comments will be replaced with sympathy and offer for help.

I am NOT knocking Autism apparel. Sport it. The more people know, the better, but I wonder the real reason people wear these shirts and jewelry. Again, you don’t see moms wearing: I love someone with ID (Intellectual Disability) or Down’s Syndrome. These disabilities are obvious to anyone around, but you can’t see Autism.

With that, I’m left wondering: is the influx of Autism apparel for the child or the parent or even both?

Either way, keep spreading the word however you see fit, and if it gives you and your child some grace on a rough day, then even better. I never think it’s a bad idea to do something that gives us a little extra grace. We all need it especially those dealing with Autism.

PS: I don’t wear Autism apparel, for no real reason, but my badge of protection is sign language. When I sign during a meltdown, people move on, and I feel less judged. Do you have a badge of protection? Please share as it may help someone else.

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