I'm the first one to
take to my blog for a good old rant come out fighting in my child's corner but that is because I know them best. I would not allow them to be placed in a position that I knew they would possibly not feel comfortable in or be able to cope with. Are we at risk of singling our children out more by wrapping them up in cotton wool?
I read an article in our local paper (please read first - opens in new window) which details a complaint made by the parent of an autistic child. Apparently, well-known comedian Ted Robbins made some 'off the cuff' remarks about the child during an audience participation section of his pantomime in December. I stress, please read the article before continuing.
I've taken part in countless live performances and have seen actors use a mental Rolodex of comments and jokes to aid or alleviate any number of situations. Humour in some situations has to be spontaneous and it's a talent that not a lot of people have. I've assisted in the sing-a-long section of a pantomime where twenty (or more) children clamber up on stage for their moment in the spotlight - to be rewarded with a lollipop - and the focus was always on the shy child or the over-enthusiastic child. It was expected and it was presumed that if a child would not be comfortable going on stage then their parent would make that judgement for them or they could leave the stage if they wanted. Ted Robbins is no Frankie Boyle - he is a 'old school' comedian, writer and actor whose live stage comment was taken out of context.
Is there a fine line between standing up for your child's disability and being so over-protective that you believe no-one else understands the world that your off-spring lives in? How do we effectively educate others who don't understand or who misunderstand? Should we have to?
When we were on holiday in Benidorm a couple of years ago one of the evening entertainment acts were two men performing circus-style tricks. They involved all (and I mean all) the children in the audience. They taught some to juggle, they had them all taking part in a jump-rope competition with an enormous skipping rope, there was a tiny clown bike on which some children were challenged to ride and then they singled Jake out to do a cartwheel. Yes, probably the only child in the audience with ADHD. The acrobat did a cartwheel and signaled for Jake to copy him, which he did. The acrobat walked on his hands and signaled for Jake to copy him, which he did. The acrobat did a backflip and signaled for Jake to copy him. Jake took one look over his right shoulder and flipped himself over, landing back on his feet perfectly (gotta love that gymnastics training). The acrobat looked at the audience as if to say, "Out of all these kids, I get this one", fell to his knees and performed the "We Are Not Worthy" bow. At no point was Jake (or us as a family looking on) out of his comfort zone and I didn't think he was ridiculed in any way.
A lot of comedy is based on someone's misfortune, a sarcastic comment or an observation about an unusual situation. Are we supposed to stop laughing?
And if you haven't seen it already, I've updated an old post about my son's ADHD over on The Huffington Post. I think it's worth a read if you're interested in knowing more about the condition.