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What's the best way for onlookers to behave? pt 2

40 replies

dottee · 11/04/2004 12:43

We've just got back from a break away in North Wales and we had an 'incident' where I thought a lot about the first part of this thread.

To be honest, it's been very hard work. I took my dd (aged 12 yesterday) with CP and learning difficulties, along with NT ds and my mum to Greenacres caravan site at Porthmadog. The site btw is SN friendly but not totally accessible. It's in a lovely location right next to the beach. You can get accessible caravans and they do have toilets for the disabled and ramps around the entertainments area but I didn't see a hoist on the side of the swimming pool for example so I cannot say it's totally accessible. The site (British Holidays) is very flat, however, and is good if you want to chill out.

DD threw quite a few tantrums during the week but the staff were helpful and we didn't get into trouble. We were quite an obvious spectacle to some people but what antagonised dd more was when people 'gawped' at her. Her latest is when she is being stared at, she just puts on the deepest crossest voice and says 'oooh you naughty girl/boy/man'. Now that's funny in hindsight and a lot of the mums of SN children will be saying 'Well done' but the situations we were in seemed to escalate because people gawped more!!!

One particular incident was at the Welsh Highland Railway cafe in Porthmadog. Please be assured MNs that the lady who works in the cafe has a daughter who works with SN children and was perfectly OK about dd's rant, so I can highly recommend the place! But there was this other group of 2 mums and 3 kids - we were sat at one end of the cafe; they were sat at the other and there must have been about 8 rows of empty tables between us. But the mums let two of the kids actually come up to the table next to us and stare at us without calling them back. Well you can imagine the frenzy dd worked up to! And they still didn't call the kids back. This went on for about 10 minutes and I was getting scratched and screamed at. The food arrived and dd calmed down.

Ironically, the youngest of the gawping kids (around 3 year old?) then did a runner out of the entrance door someone had left open so the mum then had to respond by (getting up of her a**e) and running after him to drag him back to his seat.

Whe dd had finished, I took her out and left mum to finish her meal. Blow me - mum said the kids then all got up to run the length of the cafe in order to peer out of the window at dd getting in our car. Well that was it - mum lost it! She sternly told the three of them to get back to their mothers and behave!

I take it the mums (from Stockport if you're reading this - and you'll know who you are) have not learned anything from the part 1 thread.

OP posts:
Jimjams · 11/04/2004 16:15

Sorry some ignoramuses spoiled your holiday. Having to be in close contact with Joe Public was the hardest part of our holiday as well- and ds1 did provide a bit of a sideshow at times- luckily he is completely oblivious. I did overhear a comment from a dad (something along the lines of "I wonder what's wrong with that boy" I think) but the mother shot him a filthy look and told him to shut up. It's crocodile skin time again, but fairly hard to take if the parents are doing nothing to intervene.

Well done your mum though, and glad that otherwise you had a good time. Lets hope the mums from Stockport do read this.

I love the thought of your dd telling people off as well. Good on her.

juniper68 · 11/04/2004 16:59

Grrrrrrr at those mothers. It's terrible but some people are so d* ignorant. Good for your mum, I hope they listened and learned something.

Nutcracker · 11/04/2004 17:07

Good for your mom.
My kids have always been taught not to stare at anyone, whatever they may be doing.
My dd once said to me "i'm only looking" (at a boy having a tantrum).
So i sat and stared at her for the next 5 minutes. Needless to say she was not impressed and soon got the message.

dottee · 11/04/2004 17:18

LOL Nutcracker ! I like that one!

One thing I did notice though - older kids were a lot better at coping with dd than younger ones. Two sisters of around dd's age made a special effort to come up and talk. In fact, the younger one of the sisters seemed fascinated and tried to explain to dd that she was singing in the talent contest (even showing dd the songsheets). Dd was rather taking aback that they were trying to befriend her.

The following night, I was having to do the party dancers as dd loves these but I have to be with her in case she bangs into people. A boy of similar age was doing the Cha-Cha slide next to her and totally ignored the fact she did knock him. He just carried on regardless.

The staff at Greenacres were very good and she did get extra hugs from Bradley Bear and co.

OP posts:
dinosaur · 11/04/2004 18:08

That must have been soooooooo annoying Dottee, but it's great that you didn't let it ruin your holiday. Glad that your dd also encountered some friendship, and Greenacres sounds excellent.

coppertop · 11/04/2004 18:10

The ignorant sods!

I think your mum and dd would make a great team. The next time someone stares:

dd: "Ooooh you naught boy!"

mum: "Get back over there and wait with your mother!"

Gawper: "But I'm 53!"

mum: "GO!"

mummytojames · 11/04/2004 18:15

well after reading this i am absolutely disgusted by the way the mother let here children behave if they was coming over to talk to your children then yes fair enough but tolet them sit there and gawp even though they could see it was upsetting you dd then i would have done exactly what your mother had done so way to go for your mother dotte

Codswallop · 11/04/2004 18:33

My ds was about 4 when an autistic boy shoved him ina moment of over exuberance on a slide and I couldn't really find the words to describe to ds1 why that was ok( he was very into rules at the time)

How would you guys like to hear a Mum explaining a situation like this?

mummytojames · 11/04/2004 18:44

what i hope to do with my ds if that ever happens is explain that that little boy of girl needs to live by different rules to him because he's poorly so you got to be extra nice to him and try and let things go

lars · 11/04/2004 18:50

Happy easter everyone!
Not everyone is like that thank god! I think dottee these mums are a fault for not calling the children back. Don't let it spoil your Easter and it sounds to me these mums were too busy chatting to take notice what their kids were really doing. Larsxx

eddm · 11/04/2004 18:55

Oh, I'm so sorry you had such a hard time in Porthmadog. It's where my family originally come from so spent all my childhood holidays there. I think one of the reasons my sister and I grew up accepting disability was the number of elderly relatives and friends we had there: Miss Davies who ran Bwlch Bryn caravan site where we stayed had a cleft lip and palate for instance, but all the kids could understand her perfectly. Funny how things that are difficult for adults are normal for kids ? at least some kids, sounds like you met some real pigs. Maybe because we'd known her from being babies?
My sister is now training as a nurse specialising in learning difficulties and I'm sure the time we had in Porthmadog had something to do with it. Not much help to you I know but I really hope some bits of the holiday were OK.

Flip · 11/04/2004 18:58

I think that it's terrible that those women allowed their children to be ignorant and gawp at you. I also hate the fact that they had no control over the kids and allowed one of them to run off outside into what could have been a busy street. My ds1 is very difficult when out in public and quite regularly intrudes on other people. But I pull him into line straight away and if he becomes to aggressive towards total strangers then we leave.

I always try and explain as best I can to him when ever he questions why other people look different. In fact we have a man in his late forties that walks up and down the street a few times a week screaming and shouting swear words to nobody in particular. I assume he has mental health issues. I've explain to ds1 that the man can't help shouting out loud and that he doesn't mean to say the things he does. He doesn't hide now when the man walks past and nor does he stop and stare. He just carries on playing.

Jollymum · 11/04/2004 18:59

I work with SN kids and I tell my children, youngest five, that SN kids are special. Everyone's brain is like a jigsaw and sometimes you get the piece that makes you brilliant at maths/english/whatever and sometimes the pieces get mixed up a bit. That's why sometimes my "special" children shout/make noises at times that my own kids know are unusual/inapproriate and they just tend to laugh and get on with whatever they were saying. Screaming really worries my 5 year old because he is unsure how to react. I think he worries that the SN kids are in pain but if we just tell them to stop shouting he seems ok with it. What's really dificult is when he was little, he copied whatever people were doing and telling him that rocking back and forward wasn't OK, because people were staring was really hard, especially when he said thing like, "Well, ....does it and he doesn't get told off!"

Codswallop · 11/04/2004 19:22

thanks Jm thats great advice

dottee · 11/04/2004 19:34

eddm - Porthmadog is beautiful and I want to go back. So does my ds (and my dd in her own way). The people at the WHR were lovely with her. Dd liked the boats and the train. I was sorry not to take her on the Ffestiniog railway but we didn't have enough time. We went down to Llanbedr and found an out of the way beach cafe. We were the first visitors of the day and sat outside eating bacon baps and huge drinking refills of coffee. Some older people were walking their dogs along the beach and came to join us. No-one had a problem with dd chunnering to herself and they all said goodbye to us as we left. We found the inhabitants to be friendly and welcoming (not at all like Anne Robinson makes out). They seemed more tolerant of us - perhaps it's the slower pace of life.

Codswallop - that's quite a hard one. I'm always the one trying to hold dd down and purposely getting in the way when she lashes out. I suppose if it happened to my son (NT) I'd be honest with him (and I'm sure the parent/carer of the SN child wouldn't mind) and explain that the other child does have difficulty in controlling feelings and emotions. If on last Wednesday, one of the mums had come to collect the children and I'd overheard her explaining this, I would have been happy because it would have took the pressure off us by 1) diffusing the situation by removing the audience (this does work!) and 2) knowing that someone else understood our position (like the lady in the cafe reassuring us we were still welcome).

Mummytojames - that's a nice thought but if I can mention that 'poorly' may be re-phrased as 'disabled'. But your sentiments are welcome and thanks for posting.

OP posts:
dottee · 11/04/2004 19:44

JM - I have this trouble with ds. I admit sometimes I may be a bit hard when I'm loosing it. e.g. 'you're lucky to be able to understand why you shouldn't do it and can tell me what's a matter, whereas (dd) can't.

I am keen on discipline with dd. If she's naughty, I'll let her know. But last week, I had hold of both her hands and was saying 'calm down, stop it. that's enough' etc. and there were only 10 of us in the cafe (us 4, the cafe lady and them 5 so they were fully aware of the situation Lars - thanks for thinking about the situation anyway).

Flip - that's good of you to address the man's problems with your son. I think it will help your son deal with similar situations in the future.

OP posts:
Flip · 11/04/2004 19:55

I do think it makes a big difference to how adults explain things to their children with the way they were brought up. My grandad has lost both his legs and is in a wheelchair. My grandma is also in a wheelchair and they need a lot of care which they get from the family mainly. Ds1 knows that his great grandad has no legs and he was able to ask him lots of questions about it.

When he was at pre-school one of his friends dads had only one arm. When trying to explain to me who his friends dad was. It wasn't the one with no arm. It was the one who wears a hat. I picked the primary school he attends because they had a lot of Special needs children and I think it's important for him to understand that everyone is different in some way and it doesn't make them any less of a person.

Jimjams · 11/04/2004 20:47

The most sensible method I've come across is what they do at ds1's nursery "so and so has difficulty talking so sometimes he gets cross" or something similar. It was lovely to hear when asked to explain the rules to a newbie a big four year old told him "no pushing", etc all the usual ones and then added- "and a register time we have tosit nicely while the children who find it difficult to talk get their PECS cards". Awwww TBH the children at ds1's mainstream school don't seem to have any problem with him. They just accept him. I often see them coming up to say hello. Apparently the other day ds1 said bye bye to a little boy (reception age) and the boy was really excited - and kept saying to the classroom assistant "A SAID BYE BYE TO ME- DID YOU HEAR HIM?"

Whoops capitals. Pushing on the slide etc? I think the best way is just "so and so finds it difficult because they don't understand- add becuase they can't talk etc if appropriate".

Ds2 copies ds1 all the time (usually with a rather confused look on his face "why am I sniffing this car?" ) I just tell him not to copy.

As he grows older the explanations will become more detailed.

goodkate · 11/04/2004 21:24

I'm sorry this happened to you. I've had little contact with SN children except a friends ds who has downs, so its difficult to know how to let your kids behave with SN children. Whilst I would hate me or my dd's to upset anyone, children are naturally friendly and want to play. How do I handle this sort of situation? I would never be like the women in Wales mind you, that must be awful.

Jimjams · 11/04/2004 21:59

I don't think there's any problem with children wanting to play. If children try to play with my son they just get ignored, so usually they kind of give up. Sometimes they have a gawp but as it doesn't bother him I try not to let it bother me (although it does sometimes I have to admit). I do get cross when they are mean to him (he tends to get pushed and poked quite a lot) but if parent's notice they tend to tell their child off, if they don't I step in and take him off with me.

In general I would just let a child get on with it unless they were obviously upsetting another child in which case I would intervene. DS2 tries to play with ds1 quite a lot- chasing games are successful, but if I can see that he is winding his brother up I'll redirect him.

In dottee's case it doesn't sound as if the children were trying to play. They were just staring. In which case the adults need to redirect their child, or give them a sensitive explanation. (It might not stop them staring another time, but at least it will stop that particular incident).

dottee · 11/04/2004 22:15

Thanks Jimjams. They definately weren't trying to initiate play. They were stood behind me and dd and I was struggling to keep dd facing the table. She was trying to turn round on her chair to see whether they were still there - bearing in mind she is now 9 and a half stone, it was getting very hard to persuade her to sit still. Bearing in mind the mums were sat at the other side of the room but side on, they had no excuse not to notice what was going on.

OP posts:
dottee · 11/04/2004 22:18

Jimjams - how old are your two? My ds can be very protective to dd but he also can become stressed when things are going amiss.

OP posts:

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Codswallop · 11/04/2004 22:20

thanks dotte

think I did say soemthing along those lines but cam not convinced ds1 listened!!

goodkate · 11/04/2004 22:23

mmmm I understand. Thanks, I'll think harder next time and be more aware.

Jimjams · 11/04/2004 22:27

ds1 is four and a half and ds2 is 2. DS2 absolutely worships his brother. It was interesting this holiday as he was charging around after him one night at the cabaret place and as soon as ds1 left he came and sat on my lap and refused to dance. He was really shy without his big brother around.

I wonder about those situations dottee. Do you think the people concerned are either just emabarrassed or don't know what to say? I found in cases this holiday where ds1 was doing something odd a lot of people just looked uncomfortable. People seem to fall into 2 groups- those who take it completely in their stride- such as the man last year on the beach who said to ds1 when he kept going back and sniffing his beach ten "ooh I wouldn;t go near there if I was you it might be overpowering" (or something like that- anway a perfectly normal comment- and not at all fazed by the lack of response- carried on chatting to him each time) - and those who just don't know where to put themselves (such as the nice man's wife who looked horrified and held her son a little tighter!). I'm always ridiculously grateful to those who do and say the right thing.

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