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To still feel guilty about ruining this little girl's evening?

(199 Posts)
DowntonNappy Tue 11-Dec-12 10:49:40

DD (4.11) was at a Christmas party yesterday. Parents were asked to step inside for the last ten minutes to watch the kids perform some carols.

When i went inside, dd jumped up from her chair in excitement to see me. I hurriedly told her to sit back down. She went to do so, but then started crying. Apparantly the child beside her had taken her chair.

I said just sit on the other one then. But dd wasn't having it. She was adamant that was the 'wrong' chair, and the child had jumped into hers while dd had ran over to me.

While dd was crying and telling the little girl that's her chair, the teacher was trying to carry on with the carols.

The other child's mum started getting angry, telling dd that was actually her child's chair and she should sit on the other one.

Dd was still insisting the little girl should move. All the while, I'm trying to calm dd down and get her to sit on the other damn chair, as she was causing a scene. I threatened to take her outside, but this didn't work either. Just as i was about to basically drag her out, the other child starts crying. Her mum goes mad, jumps out of the audience, swoops her daughter up from the chair, and storms out, shouting "Fucking ridiculous. Forget it. Just forget it."

The poor teacher was trying to carry on as normal. She quietly called after the mum, "sorry about that."

I got dd to sit on the other chair (the 'wrong' one). I sat beside her on the one that was apparantly 'stolen' from her. She was sitting on the edge of it, clearly wanting the one i was on. But i couldn't let her have it because all the other parents were looking at me and it would have looked as if I was just pandering to her.

Anyway, carols finished. And teacher gave out presents. She called out the other child's name. Her mum must have been standing just outside the door, because she came back in for the present upon hearing her child's name, saying that her daughter's birthday (had no idea it was her birthday!) had been ruined thanks to 'that spoilt brat'.

I was completely numb at this point, mortified and felt so weak. All I could focus on was keeping dd calm as i didn't want things to escalate. Everyone was muttering in the audience and tutting.

Afterwards, everyone cleared out the hall. I stayed behind to talk to dd, and explain why she was in the wrong and must come with me to apologise. Just then the teacher came over. I burst into tears. DD was so confused, asking what's wrong.

I apologise to the teacher, explaining that dd's autism just makes her very particular/stubborn about things, and asked if she could take me and dd to the parent so we could say sorry. The teacher was lovely and gave me a big hug and said not to worry. And that she'll apolgise to the mum on my behalf, instead of me going to her myself. The mum - none of the mums - know my dd has autism, but the teacher said she'd inform the mum though (with my permission) to explain to her why dd acted the way she did.

I told dd off when we got home, but it didn't register with her at all.

Wow! Sorry for the epic novel. Basically, AIBU for still feeling so guilty? I need to grow a pair, me thinks. She's probably forgotten all about it. But my friend thinks i deserve to feel this guilty. I - well DD - effectively ruined a little girl's 6th birthday, and her Christmas party all at once.

dayshiftdoris Thu 13-Dec-12 01:26:59


You do not have to share your DD's diagnosis with anyone that you do not feel comfortable with doing so.

My son has been with his team for FOUR years and only the coaches and managers know plus 1 or 2 parents who are friends anyway. =

That mother is unlikely to care that your DD has AS and infact it may make her more determined that her DD should not 'suffer' due to your DD's needs.
Happened to us more than once so be very careful.

Saying all that - I told a random shoe shop assistant... my son suddenly couldnt stand his shoes and had a full blown meltdown over it so ended up in plimsols in schooll. Took hell of a chance in going shoe shopping after school but walked in, sat him down then said to the woman - my son is autistic, he's had an awful day and I need a pair of shoes in a size 2H. Less than 10mins later we had shoes and the woman had not even looked at him smile whilst fitting shoes...
I wanted to kiss her.

I always reason that if it will protect him and benefit him then I will say something but otherwise it does not define him as a person.

DrCoconut Wed 12-Dec-12 22:11:11

I thought ASD before you even said your DD has autism. My DS1 is on the spectrum (being assessed to see where ) and I know how difficult it is to manage these situations and how judgemental others can be. Hopefully it will quickly blow over.

DowntonNappy Wed 12-Dec-12 20:01:12

Hi again.

A lot of people seem to think this happened in a school (probably my fault for using the word 'teacher').

This actually took place in a little club my daughter goes to once a week. The 'teacher' is the lady who runs it.

I don't think the teacher heard the mum say 'fucking', but she saw her storm out and then definitely heard her call my dd 'spoilt brat' as she retrieved her own child's present. And i'm certain the teacher will have spoken to her about this afterwards, but obviously wanted to try and retain some calm during the children's carols.

I'm not keeping dd's autism secret per se. We're both new to the club and don't know any of the other parents. Haven't spoken to any of them actually. And it's not something i feel i could just blurt out to strangers.

Thanks again everyone for your replies and sharing your own experiences. You've really helped to open my eyes a lot more.

Changeforthrday Wed 12-Dec-12 17:57:59

The children are small! The wrong chair can be terrible at that age (I remember someone pinching my chair in choir practice and I was very upset). The mum was the one spoiling the evening because of her reaction. I would have moved DS if he had swiped a chair that another child was sitting on. The mum was being quite passive aggressive and a bully - all she needed to do was ask her child to move chairs, no drama or stomping off. Maybe she was having a bad day. I stomp about quite I'm having a bad day and am sure at school they think I'm a right old cow!

maisiejoe123 Wed 12-Dec-12 17:50:45

If you dont want people to know that your child has special needs I think you need to expect these sorts of incidents. A few years ago my son (aged 5) was swimming and when he was in the changing room another boy who had been in the pool with him came up to him and smashed his fist into his face! There was no warning, no fighting beforehand. The father with him said sorry, handed me a card which said my son has 'Special Needs' and just walked off! I still to this day cannot decide if I should have done anything about this.

Of course I know that everyone will rush forward saying they wouldnt allow that to happen etc but it did and I suspect clearly it wasnt the first time. So, perhaps I would consider telling the school, why are you keeping it a secret?

Yorkpud Wed 12-Dec-12 17:40:46

Poor you - it is really hard to know what the right thing to do is in these situations. I think the other mother was wrong to do what she did as you were trying to calm your daughter down you weren't asking the other girl to give up her chair.

Your friend that keeps making you feel bad about this really doesn't sound like much of a friend especially as she knows about your daughter's autism.

Justforlaughs Wed 12-Dec-12 15:37:22

I doubt very much that you "ruined" her birthday at all, she'll have got over it by now. As the teacher was aware that your DD has autism I would have expect an adult to be sitting somewhere in the vicinity who could have offered you some support in the event of a crisis (the possibility of which should have been anticipated). Don't beat yourself up about this, it could have happened to anyone, whether their child had any difficulties or not. Kids do this all the time.

BumBiscuits Wed 12-Dec-12 15:22:09

A parent would be called up to the head's office if they swore in front of an infant class at my DDs' school (this has happened when a father swore while reprimanding his son who wouldn't wear his coat).

Other than that, this probably won't be the last time something like this happens to you. You'll need to learn some coping mechanisms of your own.

Stop feeling guilty, the other kid had probably forgotten all about the chair incident by the time she was in the car going home.

ChippingInAWinterWonderland Wed 12-Dec-12 15:13:06

Even if the child was older/bigger/whatever if they were getting upset about something, I would ask my child to please give the other child the chair/whatever as it's clearly important to them. Many years ago - before I knew so many children with SN and before MN, I admit I probably would have rolled my eyes, thankfully I am now far more aware of 'everything not being as it seems' all of the time and you know, so what if it is just an older/bigger/whatever child chucking a tantrum over something daft - does it really matter? Far better that than upset a child who does have some form of SN.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 12-Dec-12 14:25:52

jake ds2 ( currently on the sofa full of snot) has just said to me " perhaps that's the exact chair the teacher pointed to and asked the dd to sit on earlier, perhaps she thought she really had to sit on that particular chair, that happened to me all the time"

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 12-Dec-12 14:21:10

Yes the other child has a right to be upset, but you appear to have ignored the fact that both children were upset both were crying. And from the look of it, it was the other mothers input into the issue that prompted her child to start crying.

As an aside I remember several incidents but one especially sticks in my mind, when ds 4 was in little school another child he was friendly with came to play and stole a computer game. We know it was her and 5 years down the line she confessed, her mother backed her to the hilt saying she had brought her dd the game her child wouldn't do that. She was upset a few days later in school because ds4 did not wish to play with her.

Over the years there have been loads of times when the dc's have been goaded/ poked/ prodded had things thrown at them because the child in the classroom doing it took amusement from the resulting meltdown and then watching the dc get told off.

It happened once when ds5 was being observed for an assessment and the teacher at the time refused to believe ds when he said another child had been poking him with a pencil until the educational phycolagist watching told Her that yes that was the case.

Children are often very strange creatures they tend to do weird things. So before you grab and remove a child who is experiencing a symptom directly as a result of a disability that makes them more vulnerable to certain less pleasant types of behaviour exhibited by others and/ or less able to deal with the outcomes of those things, you should just asses the suituation and try to resolve it. This is exactly what the op was doing,when the other parent escalated the suituation

JakeBullet Wed 12-Dec-12 14:12:23

Yes I would, I used to take DS out of things sometimes. It's not just the chair here, it could be the OP's DD felt very anxious in a very sensory environment and so felt safe in that particular chair having got settled there....who knows.

If DS got involved in stuff like this I used to take him off and calm him down before bringing him back.....or not bringing him back if he didn't calm down. It's hard sometimes and children with high functioning autism are still autistic despite being able to talk etc. they are square pegs in round holes but still need help to fit in the round hole so that they can function in society as adults. Sometimes this takes them years and generally the younger they are then the more stubborn and unreachable they can be about things.

I would have probably removed my Ds in the same situation but only to try and calm him down after all other stuff had not worked. In the OP's case though the other parents did not give her time to get through to her DD before blowing up and having a proper "teddy out of the pram" tantrum all of her own.....that is HER problem and not the OPs one. Sadly that is how her own DD will be as an adult too having witnessed Mummy doing the same. Charming thought isn't it?

SamSmalaidh Wed 12-Dec-12 13:50:45

To be honest, if I didn't know the child had ASD, I would probably roll my eyes and get my child to move but make a pointed comment to the mother about the other child being silly blush I would be cross about my child being made upset over it though.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Wed 12-Dec-12 13:46:35

As a parent though, wouldn't you step in and try to get your child to swap chairs if it was that important to the other child? I would.

JakeBullet Wed 12-Dec-12 13:45:58

Only a year between then chronologically but far more socially and emotionally. My son is 10 and does not yet reach National Curriculum Level 1 for Personal, Social and Emotional behaviour.....he understands things less well than the average 5 year old.......I imagine for the OP it's the same situation. Comparing ages is not always the best indicator of behaviour and understanding.

iamapushymum Wed 12-Dec-12 12:26:13

'That aside, the other child is 6. I would expect an (NT) child of 6 to see that a child of 4 was upset by the chair thing and move!'

No.The OPs DD is 4.11 so there is only a year between them, so not a huge gap, and the Ops DD is big so probably looks older.

Peachy Wed 12-Dec-12 12:16:13

Shewho- I get that.

But children learn by example, no?

So when they see that mum makes allowances, (and if it were me with ds2 when he was little, rewards (aka bribes) kindness, whether with praise or haribo) then that IS how it is all learned.

Often I keep the boys away from events, so others can have fun without the tantrums, sometimes because I can;t face another session of watching ds4 refuse to integrate- and sometimes we turn up and rely on other people's kindness, which we normally receive in spades. It needs to be a balance.

Maybe it's me though, but don't quite a few 4 year olds have a hyped up sense of right and wrong anyway? So would get distressed by such a thing as their chair incident? TBh if one of my boys were doing something completely harmless that upset a littlie I'd expect them to stop on age alone, just because we make allowances for people younger (or a lot older!) than us where needed. It depends on parenting style though- our school is quite competitive, and certainly a lot of the parents actively promote competitiveness in their children for life lesson reasons, whilst I am the quiet Quaker teaching kindness in the background: both paths have benefits.

Peachy Wed 12-Dec-12 12:08:57

Freddo I also have an NT child and you know what? At the age of 12 I can see the huge benefits that living with his siblings has brought- I gets topped in the street by people commenting on his kindness and how helpful he is, neighbours I barely

I don't see how we can have a right not to be upset: how can anyone have that? of course when it comes to small kids we do our best to protect them but a six year old should be able to comprehend when it is explained: or indeed I used to get my sons to take small cards or gifts if they upset someone. It meant nothing to DS1- and a lot to both the parents and the other child. Nothing major: we'd make some biscuits or something.

Integration is immensely useful although at each child's own level and 4 is young, my own boys attend Bases that exist to give specialist help whilst maximising their integration. Equally though compassion and doing things slowly helps a child overall: far easier to integrate when not stressed, certainly a Christmas time event is one of the worst setting imaginable!

It's also true that not everyone will show compassion BUT people need to know before we can judge their reaction.

Do I want my children treated differently by their peers? Interesting. We seem to attract a mixed bunch of kids here: ds2 has friends over often now they are old enough to be able to get out and about should we need to ask them to give the boys a break, and certainly we get those who have less severe diagnoses or presentations as much as NT kids by either chance or ds2's design (he volunteers at school as an ASD Mentor, not my choice, I was against it, but he does). They ARE going to be treated differently: how can a 13 year old who needs constant supervision not be treated differently? other children meet out and about, he can't. Ds3 even more so- he pretty much presents as a very naive toddler, aged 9 (teacher agreed with this at review on Monday). They ARE different so will be treated differently. That's not always negative though- very few people in RL know I have AS but those that do know if I accidentally make a comment that could be perceived as brusque or similar, it's never intended, and I hope that has helped prevent hurt over the years. i don't expect anything extra from anyone- certainly I give plenty, Secretary of the social group etc- but it can work in other people's benefit if they have some awareness- if needed. Equally I work hard to show empathy (I have it in spades but not sure it always show) and I try and ensure the boys do that as best they can, either directly in ds3's case as he ahs plenty or in ds1's case by pretending, which is a better alternative to upsetting people imo.

I guess that's the level I try and pitch at in the longest term.

Chipping- hello! We're fine thank you an looking forward to a great Christmas- are you OK? Things going well? (sorry for hijack).

ChippingInAWinterWonderland Wed 12-Dec-12 11:56:48

Outraged because you weren't showing any when you said Children with HFA have to realise that the world will not always bend to them, and sometimes that are going to have to do things they don't completely 'get' because its the right thing to do and because its what society and out customs dictate we do The child is 4.

That aside, the other child is 6. I would expect an (NT) child of 6 to see that a child of 4 was upset by the chair thing and move! If I was the mother of the 6 year old, I would have asked her to move along for the other little girl. I would have also told her that it was silly crying because a 4 year old wants a particular chair! The child didn't need to 'get upset' and the mother could have handled the situation completely differently - it was her choice to 'spoil' the concert by doing what she did.

If you choose for your child not to be treat differently (shown empathy) that's up to you, it doesn't make it the only or right choice. I think other children learn a lot by understanding 'differences' (whether they are physical or mental) and how they affect people/their behaviour and learning how to allow for that whilst still forming equal relationships. Our local school is amazing in this respect.

shewhowines Wed 12-Dec-12 11:54:55

While ASD etc may be the reason for behaviour and people should make allowances for this, it shouldn't mean that parents should throw up their hands and and use this as an excuse for not changing the behaviour. I'm know most parents wouldn't do this before I get flamed .

Freddo is just saying that during the long learning process, whilst allowances understandably need to be made for the SN child, allowances also need to be made for young children who have not yet developed the understanding of the need to make allowances - if you see what I mean.

shewhowines Wed 12-Dec-12 11:43:22

I get where you're coming from Freddo. It's a difficult line to tread and obviously very hard for some children but I do feel that you are right to try to integrate these children (as much as possible) into the society that they have to live in, in such a way that they minimise negative reactions and trauma to themselves.

Definitely easier said than done. Society can be cruel and while in an ideal world people would always make allowances, unfortunately, this isn't an ideal world.

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Wed 12-Dec-12 11:37:56

Imagine having to go through life with that burden. [shudder]

DoesntTurkeyNSproutSoupDragOn Wed 12-Dec-12 11:36:04

I feel sorry for the birthday girl having a mother who thinks it's OK to swear in front of children and stomp out like a brat [shrug]

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 12-Dec-12 11:18:19

Chipping, what makes you think I have no understanding or empathy just because I have more of it for the little girl who was made to cry and the parent who was expecting to see her child in a lovely concert on her birthday than I do for the OP? hmm

Peachy, of course the spectrum is huge and wide and massively varied, that's why I had to laugh to myself when I got told that I clearly have no understanding of autism by other people! I'm no expert on autism, I just know the particular ways it affects the people I know who have it.

I made my comment about children who are high functioning having to learn to do things they don't always understand because that's what society dictates because I believe it to be true in many many cases. If the OP has a choice over whether she tells people her child is autistic, then it won't be something that is immediately obvious. That means that as she grows older, she will need to behave in a way that other people relate to for her own benefit.

I get that it's difficult, and I get that it takes years for some children to learn this. But in the meantime, I personally didn't want my child being ostracised or treated differently by his peers because he was treated differently by adults. It's a very complicated thing, but as a parent of an NT child too, I don't think it's ok for any child to be upset because of the upsetting actions of another child, ASD or not.

iamapushymum Wed 12-Dec-12 10:58:38

''Saying you should take out a disabled child instantly or routinely when the disability causes an issue is a bit like saying normal folk would rather not deal with disability related issues.'

well it depends.what about, in this situation, the other little girl who was upset? doesn't she have the right to be not upset?

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