An Open Letter to Debbie’s New Aftercare Provider

Dear New Aftercare Provider,

I know that you have lots of experience working with kids and I know that you have been working with my daughter for only barely a month.  There are some things, however, that you need to know about her.  You see, she is different from the other children at the center and she is unlike the children you have cared for in the past.  Debbie has autism and because she has autism, she has a difficult time communicating her wants, her needs, her feelings, and her thoughts.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t understand your feelings, your wants, and your needs Please understand that part of your job is to “get” Debbie.  Her behavior is going to be incredibly different from the other kids in your charge.  She is going to have tantrums and meltdowns that will blow your mind.  Hell, they blow our mind.  She is going to hit.  She is going to throw things.  She is going to slam things on a table.  And you know what?  There will be days like today when you have no idea why she exploded.  Are these behaviors acceptable?  No, absolutely not.  Should Debbie receive consequences for her actions?  Of course she should.  But I implore you, as her mother, when she apologizes to you, DO NOT BLOW HER OFF with an “mmhmm.”

I know you are angry that she hit you.  I know that you are angry that she knocked toys off the shelves.  I know you are angry that she was slamming the computer on the table.  I GET IT!  I live with Debbie every single day.  I have been there.  I have done that and I have bought the damn t-shirt!  Once she calms down though, you can talk to her.  She will listen and she will understand you and she will apologize on her own. She will do these things because she doesn’t want you to be upset.  She wants you to know that she wasn’t throwing or hitting or slamming because she wanted to piss you off.  She did these things because she was communicating to the best of her ability in that moment.  It isn’t fair and it isn’t pleasant.  But it is autism and autism is complicated. Autism is difficult.  Autism is autism.

I am willing to help you “get” Debbie.  I am willing to give you a key to unlocking her world.  But you need to help me help you.  You need to tell me when something happens.  You need to let me know that you can handle having my autistic daughter in your world.  You need to respond with more than a grunt when she apologizes.  Are you willing to try?

Sincerely,

Debbie’s Mom

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