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Letter: Raising autistic children is hard, but there is support

The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.

When I read the article Kingston Costco refuses service for mask non-compliance earlier this week, my heart went out to all involved. 

Being a single parent (divorced) to two sons with autism has certainly had its challenges over the years. Looks and comments in public, by people that simply do not understand, have become commonplace. Most of the time I ignore them.

The most polite question I had asked to me, by a doctor in the lineup at the bank, was “May I ask what your son was diagnosed with?” I am grateful for that question because its okay to ask questions when we do not understand.

I read many comments about the refusal to wear a mask by this child with autism, and I had to think back to when my son refused to wear a seatbelt, many years ago now.

I thought back to what I did as a parent to ensure my sons safety. After all, that’s what being a parent is all about. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mask or a seatbelt, its mandatory and so we have to teach our children. Whether they like it or not, rules MUST be obeyed.

The way I got my son to wear his seatbelt in the car was simple, in theory. Every time he unbuckled the seatbelt and took it off I pulled the car over and put it back on him. It was a pain, but being consistent is what being a good parent is all about.

Wearing a seatbelt is the law, so without question my son had to learn to use it whether he liked it or not. It became an issue on the school bus. My son would not stay in his seat, so he required restraints to keep him in his seat. After many meetings with the school and our support workers we had to have his personal assistant come to our house in the morning and get on the bus with him, to ensure his safety and that of everyone else on the bus.

If it takes five times for the child to get it so be it, but it probably took me 100’s of times of correcting this issue for my son to finally leave it on. If my son was not wearing his mask the same would apply. If I could not make him leave it on, then he would stay at home with a sitter.

There is support for families in Kingston who have children with disabilities:

Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Ave.
613-548-4417
https://www.ongwanada.com/contact-information/

Community Living Kingston
541 Days Rd Unit 6 (Second Floor)
613-546-6613
www.myclkd.ca

Darlene Beauchamp,
Local mother of two adult autistic sons.

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One thought on “Letter: Raising autistic children is hard, but there is support

  • February 12, 2021 at 10:04 pm
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    Being the parent of two sons with autism, you should know first hand that all people with autism are very different, and yes behavioural therapy can do wonders, but it’s not a magic bullet that works for every situation. Our nonverbal severely autistic son won’t wear a mask despite our qualified behaviour therapist working at getting him to wear one. I’m glad you got your son to wear a seat belt, but keep in mind there may be significant differences in mental capacity to learn and unless you know this father’s son well, you should keep your opinion about what he should or shouldn’t do to yourself.

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