The Stares of Strangers

Rebecca Shayler-Adams by Rebecca Shayler-Adams Additional Needs

Rebecca Shayler-Adams

Rebecca Shayler-Adams

We are just a typical family muddling along our day to day lives. 4 kids, 1 with autism, 1 with an unknown neuromuscular condition

My daughter collapsed the other day and broke her arm.

As expected the hospital asked how it happened.

I repeated the story to the trauma nurse, to the x-ray technician, to the consultant and to the nurse that did the cast.

They all had a puzzled look on their face as I said her muscles and nerves just stop working for no reason, I explained that she is under the specialist children’s hospital and these ‘episodes’ are under investigation.

After reading through the notes they nodded and had sympathy for me, rather than looking at me like I neglected my child.

My daughter then had a cast on her arm for the next 3 weeks.

3 weeks of strangers looking at me with different expressions ranging from sympathy to disgust that my toddler had a broken arm.

I realised that this is going to happen for the rest of my daughter’s life.

She is mentally delayed and she will probably need a wheelchair or at least a walking aid, and yet she looks perfectly healthy.

On a bad day though she can not move at all and she is like a new born again.

Apparently, it takes 5 seconds to make a first impression, and in those 5 seconds the look on your face is going to happen especially if you are judging a stranger.

However, for the stranger that look, especially of disgust, will last so much longer.

I will never be able to get those looks out of my head.

My daughter will always have to deal and cope with these looks and stares and it angers me that she has to deal with these.

My other children have already experienced the negative looks and have started to ask questions about why people stare and talk about their sister.

I have no experience of this negative aspect of human nature and I don’t know what to say to my children.

I try and stay positive and explain that they don’t understand the condition and so stare.

That we don’t have time to explain to every stranger that stares at us the health problems of their sister and so we just have to carry on as normal and ignore them.

That doesn’t erase the memories of the stares and negative comments.

Before having my daughter, I wasn’t very thick skinned, but she has taught me to be strong and unfortunately get a thick skin.


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