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  • Her Child Was Hurt By A Child With Autism, Mom Asks What To Do; 'Ako Nalang Ba Lagi Magpapakumbaba?'

    A developmental pediatrician reminds that aggressive behavior in children is not unique to children who are on the spectrum.
    by Riyalyn Grace Pasimio .
Her Child Was Hurt By A Child With Autism, Mom Asks What To Do; 'Ako Nalang Ba Lagi Magpapakumbaba?'
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    What wouldn't a parent do if their child was hurt?

    An anonymous mom shared at Smart Parenting Village, an online community of over 95,000 parents, a recent experience they had.  It was a situation of a mom asking how to protect her daughter who was hurt at the playground, but it turned into a complicated situation when she mentioned a neurodivergent child was involved. 


    She further explained in the comment section that her choice of words were brought about by her emotions, and did not mean any harm to anyone, especially to neurodivergent children and their parents. The comment section was quickly joined by more than 400+ parents who answered her question, also sharing their own experiences and their advice.

    Parents are naturally protective of their kids

    Evangeline Ibanez shared a similar experience, “Na-experience po yan ng toddler namin sa isang mall. Talagang dumugo pa nga ang noo ng anak ko. Ang ginawa ko na lang hinga ng malalim, lumayo, at nag-move on. Buti naman nakakaintindi naman anak namin na talagang may mga batang sadyang ganyan po kalagayan nila kaya hindi nagalit ang anak namin sa bata. Shield your child and IWAS is the key na lang po.”

    Jhen Bechayda-Ricafuente expounded on the anonymous mom’s predicament, which she likened to a mama bear’s instinct for her newborn cubs. “Tayong mga magulang pag nasaktan anak natin sa ganung sitwasyon, kahit gusto natin intindihin minsan masakit parin satin kapag nasaktan anak natin. Ako walang special [needs] child, pero sobrang kulit at pala-away ng anak ko. Kaya ginagawa namin, pag nasa playground palagi yan namin sinusundan, hindi nawawala paningin ng daddy niya sa anak namin kasi aware kami na may pagka-makulit at hyper siya.”

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    'There is no one more in pain in situations like this than the parents of the kid himself. Kung nahihirapan kayo mag-adjust sa presence ng special needs child, araw-araw nahiihirapan ang family niya.' -Kathrina, mom to an eight-year-old atypical child

    Sarah Aterrado said, “I think mommy sender here has already been so patient and kind. Imagine your child being pushed, kicked and tamaan sa labi ng batang mas malakas at malaki pa sa anak nya, and yet hindi nya skinandalo because that's the right thing to do. And yet, here are some mommies telling her to be kind. If what she did wasn't kindness pa, then I don't know what it is.”

    RELATED: What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder? Its Range Of Symptoms Including Patterns of Behavior

    Comments from parents of children on the spectrum 

    One of the good takeaways an online community like Smart Parenting Village brings is the connection among parents. Parents with neurodivergent children were quick to give their own experience and perspective. 

    Jenevie Sagmit shared, “Hello Mommy, I am an AUSOME MOM. Your inhibitions and protective feelings are valid. Siyempre your child is just 3 and he or she will not understand the reason why the bigger kid is getting her toy and even tried to hurt her she just wants to play. Your kids' happiness is your priority.”


    'Protecting your child and is not wrong. That is why we always push for autism awareness, so that our neurodivergent kids will be understood and not be labeled and judged as such. I agree that a little understanding, compassion and kindness would not hurt,' -Avi Ging, mom to an atypical child

    She validated the original poster’s feelings and added, “For her, Kuya is just being mean or rude and she cannot comprehend the situation. Yung mga kids on that age e hindi pa nakakaintindi talaga sa ganitong bagay at emotions lang nila ang gagana sa ganitong situations. For us parents, the last thing that we want is a meltdown.”

    She then added some helpful tips on what to do, next time that anyone finds themselves in the same situation, “My tip, INTERVENE and DIVERT.”

    “Intervene by informing the guardian of the childs of the behavior. Kasi kaya namin sinasama ang mga anak namin sa mga ganitong play areas para matuto ang anak namin to properly socialize and properly adjust and address their surroundings so the parents or guardians task is to guide the child in this situation,” Jenevie explained. 

    RELATED: Autism In The Workplace: "They Were Hired Because Of Their Abilities, Not Out Of Charity"


    “Intervene by removing your child and diverting her attention to something else. Why? To avoid a much bigger meltdown and to teach her to protect herself with sudden aggression not only from kids in the spectrum but from other bullying instances na mararanasan niya sa buhay. You are not there all the time to protect your child. Intervene by doing the same to your kid, inform her why she is being remove,” she said. 

    Other parents of neurodivergent children shared in the thread that they are somewhat hurt by the message of the original poster, especially her choice of words. 

    Kathrina, also a mom to an eight year old child on the spectrum shared that she was hurt but also tried to understand where anonymous mom is coming from. “Hi Mamsh, as a mother of an ausome child who looks very very neurotypical, the way you put your words hurt me. But I will try to be more understanding, baka wrong choice of words lang. I pray in my heart you are nicer than how your post portrays you.”


    'Wouldn’t it be nice that our children see exactly how we handle any situation with humility?...I would take my child out of the situation kung at-risk siya. Hindi ko mapipigilan ang ibang tao... but I can take my child out of the situation [then] have the right headspace to explain to her.' -Nabie Legaspi

    She then answered the question on what to do in that kind of situation, “Anyway, to answer your question, I will shield my own child. I will show grace and take the opportunity to show my child how to share, be compassionate and how to act in cases like this.”

    Kathrina continued, “Ganito kasi yan Mamsh, there is no one more in pain in situations like this than the parents of the kid himself. Kung nahihirapan kayo mag-adjust sa presence ng special needs child, araw-araw nahiihirapan ang family niya. And you have no idea ilang buckets na iniyak nila, ilang gabi na silang humagulgol praying na kahit ibigay nalang buhay nila (in my case naman) just to make my child neurotypical. Lagi ko sinasabi sa Diyos kung kukunin nya ako kapalit na mag thrive normally ang anak ko, in a heartbeat I would offer my whole life.”

    “Yes, alam ko feeling mo kayo na lang lagi nag-aadjust. Feeling mo dehado kayo. Pero kasi dapat meron tayong allowances for cases like this. Kaya nga tayo human and not robots kasi we have the ability to empathize and make judgment calls,” she added. 


    RELATED: Raising Two Sons With Autism: Small 'Champagne Moments' Give Us Strength

    Yeng C., also a mom to a neurodivergent child said, “Ikaw mag-lalayo Mam, mother ako ng special child din. Siguro if nakita mo na may kakaiba na ikaw na rin iiwas. Hindi pagpapakumbaba yun, sa mundo natin now alam na natin ang bata if may something sa kanya.”

    She added, “I’m sure his parents don't like the way their child acts, but it is uncontrollable and dahil tao lang din ang magulang, I’m sure naman hindi nila gugustuhin ang nangyayari. It's just that sometimes kahit gusto mong nakatitig ka at nakabantay sa anak mo 24/7, minsan hindi rin maiiwasang malilingat talaga. I’m sure they don't like what happened.”

    Yeng continued, “You need to accept the fact that even though we cannot understand things at times, need na natin tanggapin that we have to accept things na mahirap unawain. And that's not pagpapakumbaba, it is showing empathy to other people. Tao lang naman tayo pare-pareho, why not be kind to anyone lalo na if it's a special child. They're uncontrollable, they cannot control themselves.” 


    RELATED: These Brothers With Autism Have Had Public Meltdowns: The Right Thing to Say if You Witness It

    Another mom of a child on the spectrum Avi Ging, said, “As a parent of an ausome child, I understand where you're coming from–protecting your child and that is not wrong. However, I do admit that there are some words in your post that are kind of hurtful to us and knowing that it is not your intention to hurt–I appreciate that. That is why we always push for autism awareness, so that our neurodivergent kids will be understood and not be labeled and judged as such. I agree with the other comments here that a little understanding, compassion and kindness would not hurt.”

    Aggression is not just from atypical kids

    Lalaine Mae C. Salgado shared another point of view, “Kahit po hindi child with special needs mi. May mga kids po na hirap or hindi pa kaya mag-regulate ng big emotions nila, thus hitting, pushing etc. Lagi lang natin tandaan na pag dinala natin sila sa ganitong klaseng lugar dapat nakabantay, kasi hindi lahat ng bata ay marunong na mag-share, gusto makipag-play, at mahaba ang pasensya. Now, as parents it's our job to intervene by diverting our child's attention into other activities and explain with kind words why we have to remove them.”


    Nabie Legaspi said, “I would advise–in any situation, involving a child with special needs or not, let us remind ourselves that the only control we hold is over ourselves (sarili at anak). If you ask kung 'lagi kang magpapakumbaba', it is definitely for you to decide on and model with your child. Wouldn’t it be nice that our children see exactly how we handle any situation with humility? In this scenario, I would take my child out of the situation kung at-risk siya.

    'Special needs children who are aggressive and hurt others are not victimizers nor are their caregivers and parents,' Dr. Harold Sia, Developmental Pediatrician and Smart Parenting Board of Experts member

    She adds, "Kung mabilis ang pangyayari at nasaktan na ang anak ko, and I saw that the child is under special care, aalis na kami right after. Hindi ko mapipigilan ang ibang tao of what they will and can do to my child, but I can take my child out of the situation, and have the right headspace to explain to her what was the situation about, and hear what she thinks about it–redirect if necessary.”


    Expert advice: Nobody is at fault

    Smart Parenting brought this discussion to Dr. Jan Harold Sia, a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and a member of the Smart Parenting Board of Experts

    He said, "These situations are indeed distressing for all concerned but nobody should be blamed for what happened, thus nobody is at fault. All parents are doing their best to care for and teach their children correct and appropriate behaviors.”

    Dr. Sia continued, “I don't think we know the whole picture in this situation. There are many ways of looking at the situation other than the possibility that ‘the parent of the older special child is just letting the child be aggressive’. Other possibilities: the special child probably needs medication (and has not started it); the yaya and the parent of the older child were not trained to handle such behaviors; the parent is exhausted, burned out (of caring his/her special child), depressed, worried of so many things, has mental/emotional problems, etc. Thus is not able to think clearly on what to do in those situations; maybe the 3 year-old-child, seeing that the older child also was eyeing the toy, raced to get the toy first.


    'It is our responsibility as parents to teach and model our kids how to show empathy and kindness to others, neurodivergent or not.'

    On the question, “Kayo na lang ba parati ang magpapakumbaba?”, Dr. Sia said, “This connotes a sense of ‘surrender to the other while feeling hurt and, possibly, angered by the situation’. ‘Pagpapakumbaba’ is different from ‘understanding the other/intindihin na lang’. When people start to think in situations like this in a negative way as if they are being victimized or dehado, it is inevitable that the ‘affected person’ will think negatively about the other, which will reinforce the person's initial thoughts of ‘nabiktima ako/dehado ako/ako na naman ba ang magpapakumbaba.’

    "But if the perspective (of the adult/parent) is, ‘this is a special needs child who does not how to communicate properly, has behavioral problems, etc’, this leads to ‘understanding’, not necessarily giving in to the special child, but ‘understanding’ or learning why the special child is behaving in such a way. We have to remember that most aggression of special needs children is not because they want to deliberately hurt the other child. Special needs children who are aggressive and hurt others are not victimizers nor are their caregivers and parents,” Dr. Sia said.


    RELATED: ‘My Son Maybe Different, But It’s Never A Disability’: Mom Shares Her Son's Autism Journey

    He added, “On protecting the three-year-old child. At this age, they will not understand such situations. I suspect that the special child also thinks like a three-year-old, thus the outcome of each child wanting to keep the toy to themselves. Survival of the fittest. That's just how three-year-olds think and act. A positive outcome in a situation like this is really dependent on the actions and understanding of a parent who is rational and mentally/emotionally healthy. What is the positive outcome? That means nobody getting hurt and the child who did not get the toy is not feeling too upset.”

    As a conclusion, Dr. Sia said, “These situations should be nipped in the bud. For those with three-year-old children, prevent these situations by keeping them away from children (both typical and special needs) with aggressive behaviors. You can also bring their own toy/s. If you wish to explain the situation to your typical three-year-old, you can say, ‘I know you like the toy but you might get hurt if neither of you will give it. The other child is sick. He/she might need more than you do. There are other toys you can play with. Let's just wait until he lets go of the toy.’  Then take the toy from your child and give it to the special child.”


    At the end of the day, whether the situation involves a neurodivergent child or not, it is our responsibility as parents to teach and model our kids how to show empathy and kindness to others.

    Josephine Alcain said, “Those with special children want others to have compassion, understanding, and patience sa kanila and that's fine and should be given, but you have to give the same sa kabilang party.”

    Again, a small act of kindness and empathy goes a long way. And as we always say, it’s free. 

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