My daughter is kind of noisy… okay, really noisy. She yells and laughs and if you give her any attention for it, she ups it a notch and gets MORE yelly and MORE happy! This is particularly true when we are somewhere where she should be quiet… or maybe it just seems that way.
We were visiting a church this weekend that wasn’t one that we usually go to. Dylan was in prime form on her dad’s lap. Happy as can be, yelling, cheering.
Can you say disruptive?
This loud behaviour in a normally peaceful, calm, somewhat quiet environment? There are families and children there so of course the noise level can fluctuate but it’s not out of the norm for parents to take disruptive youngsters out in the hall if they get a little too crazy.
Well, there she was, going and going, and my husband looked over at me and whispered “Should I take her out? I whispered, insisted, “no!”
(Mind you, I don’t even like to take my typical children out when they are misbehaving because I don’t want them to realize they can go run in the halls if they are a little loud and naughty first!)
This begs the question… how do you balance your special needs child (or adult) being loud and, under typical circumstances, disruptive with providing exposure about special needs to the community? And, not helping but, of course the child, like many toddlers, is completely oblivious to this “expected” behavior and the peaceful environment. This goes for any setting, restaurant, malls, plays, music events… Of course with church there is the addition of respecting the reverent environment and formality, expected behavior so that’s why I thought this was a good example.
But still… No! We shouldn’t have to take her out, right? This is who she is and this is one of the reasons why we love her. We cannot remove her from an environment just because her normal behavior might be disruptive to someone. I mean, let’s be honest here, I get annoyed by the behavior of lots of typical people acting very typical! I don’t ask them to leave right? Why would we not expect love and acceptance of our special needs daughter? Especially at church!
Our only choice, really, was to roll with it. And this is what we found…
We noticed that when we relaxed and stopped worrying about what a distraction she was being, the other people around us more relaxed. Now, it could have been these people were perfectly relaxed before hand, but because we were nervous about how they were reacting to Dylan we read more into their behavior. Her giggling and refusing to stop all of a sudden seemed to became quaint and charming. One lady who looked back seemingly annoyed at first, smiled back at my husband. Another mother in the next row was watching and laughing with her.
Balancing the behavior that is normal for our kids with the behavior that is expected of typical children is hard! So when you hear a noise that seems out of place, yells, giggling, crying, please don’t look back with a discriminating eye. Know that we are doing the best that we can. We are particularly sensitive to how you might act around us because we are already nervous about their behavior not being appropriate.
I have only ever had good comments from our own church members about the special spirit that Dylan brings with her to church and to my classes. I am so grateful for that, each time I hear it, the nervousness about her not being appropriate in the environment dissipates a little. That’s the way it should be.
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