Sarcastic Saturday :: dear neurotypicals (the first)

24 Sep

Dear neurotypicals (def. “not displaying or characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior.” courtesy of Google),

I don’t want to be that jerk who gets angry at children for just being children, and I apologize if anyone has ever thought I was. But here’s the thing: the stimuli from children just being children (or whatever) often has the potential to flip about ten of my nope switches at any given time. When I am in a quiet place, when I am really focusing, when I am already distracted by one or more other clashing stimuli, when my patience is running low or my mood is already closer to bad than good, and/or when I am trying to do work this is especially difficult. I’m a grown-ass adult. I can tell myself “hey, who cares if that baby is screaming, you have shit to do.”

But, thank you cognitive processing, this is not always easy to do.

I bring this up because I work, currently, in an environment where at least twice a day I am temporarily overwhelmed with, among other things, child-related stimuli. This can include:

  • children running around
  • children disturbing merchandise displays
  • children misbehaving regarding location, i.e. going places they shouldn’t
  • children complaining
  • children interacting with each other loudly
  • children genuinely crying
  • children throwing fits
  • children repeating things incessantly
  • children physically and verbally demanding attention
  • children playing with loud toys
  • children partaking of media without headphones on (i.e. playing their video to the entire room)
  • children refusing to listen to their parents/guardians
  • children being yelled at by their parents/guardians for any of the above
  • children being soothed by their parents in an audible way (i.e a baby’s stroller being pushed around or that same stroller playing loud repetitive sounds like waves crashing or a parent repeatedly shushing their baby)
  • children being cooed at by every adult in the place
  • children asking a lot of questions

Now, a lot of things are perfectly fine in context. In a place that is not specifically designated for other things (like a shopping establishment or medical office) it’s okay for children to run, play, talk, be upset, partake of media, be soothed, etc. Furthermore I personally actually find it charming when children decide they’re going to ask questions about everything (how does w work why is x like that do you like y would you show me z please)… but even that can be a little much when there’s a perfect storm of other items on the list brewing.

I understand that babies cry. I understand that children run. I understand that parents yell at their children (although honestly, I disagree with about 75% of the yelled criticisms I hear parents lobby at their children, especially in a public venue, and I especially object to parents threatening their children with even mild violence and have an instinct to tell the parent to say that again to my face or something equally ineffective – but maybe I’m just soft and permissive and afraid of conflict). I also understand that telephones ring, businesses get busy, people ask questions, people carry on conversations, and other sources of non-child-related stimuli can build up.

I’m not even going to ask you to be mindful of your surroundings and do things like: not bring your children where they don’t have to go, take your children the hell outside when they start crying and not just respond by yelling at them to be quiet which prompts them to cry more, bring headphones for your children if you want to distract them with media, teach your children not to just run around places messing them up for fun. I don’t know anything about parenting. You do you, I guess.

All I’m asking you, parents but particularly neurotypical parents who are possibly less attuned to the ways this stuff could affect people in your surroundings, is to try to become a little more attuned and cut those of us whose brains are particularly sensitive to shrieking on top of blurs of toddler flashing around us on top of buttons from a Happy Meal toy being pushed repeatedly (or what have you) a little more slack. We’re not just being a killjoy or hating your children. We’re not intending to get short-tempered if that should happen. (We’re also not trying to criticize your parenting or get short-tempered because we’re trying not to criticize your parenting.) I just know that for me, personally, layers upon layers of noise and distraction can set off flares of anxiety, which in turn makes me have to work harder to maintain normalcy, which in turn in turn in turn.

I guess just… be more careful about things like that, neurotypicals especially.

–your fangirl heroine.



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