Shannon Des Roches Rosa

Photo © Merrick Brown

at Flickr

“Is Your Son Really That Difficult?”

That’s what the well-meaning blinds salesperson who just left my house
asked me, after I told her I was leery of installing vertical blinds in
our family room — mostly because I was worried Leo would love them to
pieces, quite literally.

I launched into kind-but-firm on-the-spot advocacy and acceptance mode. I
didn’t cry (something I might have done in the past) or get strident
(something I am still working on). Instead, I smiled to show how much I
love my son, and let her know that she was misunderstanding my concerns.

I told her that I wouldn’t call my son difficult, but that his autism means he sometimes has difficulty
reining in his impulses. So even if we asked him to please not wrap
himself up in or set in motion a great big set of swinging, clanking,
flapping blinds, he might not be able to resist. He would likely see
them, as he does in most doctors’ offices, as more fun than any
plaything on this planet. And he might pull them all down, in his

It’s not that Leo is difficult — it’s that I know what can be difficult
for him. Why would I put him in a challenging situation, when it can be

But as we also like to give him opportunities to prove himself, we will
probably get one tiny trial section of vertical blinds for now. His
ever-increasing maturity may mean that blinds-play has become passé.
(Also, we have to do something, as all our floors and bookshelves and
furniture are getting bleached to hell.)

The salesperson seemed to get it. She nodded, and said that what I told
her made sense because “we all make allowances for each other,
especially as parents.” Indeed.

I wish more people were so easy to reach.

Previously published at