Parents of autists are used to contemptuous stares and “Can’t you control your child!” and “My God, what a brat!” The subtext of how awful you are as a parent.
In the neurotypical world, the children are just as varied as they are in the world of autism. Some are wonderful and others are hell on wheels. In both worlds, I have seen parents and teachers pass the buck for children’s behaviour. Each asserts that teaching manners and installing good attitudes towards others is the domain of the other. Teachers say parents should do it and parents claim it is the responsibility of the educators.
Whoa! Back up there! Educators? Who are the educators in a child’s life. The teachers and the parents, primarily, but gran too, and bigger sibs and odd Mrs. Bumble down the road. People who state that unschooling or homeschooling will create children that are spoiled, inconsiderate and antisocial seem to forget that those behaviours exist in children who attend school as well, and perhaps in greater proportion.
In Africa, there is a saying that “It takes a village to raise a child,” and it is beyond doubt true. The parents and the teachers and the older folks and even the business people should set examples. The thing about the village raising a child is that it is a collective of knowledge and awareness. Others can share their experience, keep a watch on behaviour and help the parents with an afternoon off or a new recipe for the picky eater. But beyond all, each and every individual has an effect on the person that child will become. The smile given in compassion, the few cents skimmed on a grocery slip, the treatment of others are the signposts that the child sees from those who share their world.
We are all the educators – each person who inhabits the child’s world, this village in which they grow up. Accept the responsibility.