Those that have followed our journey for some time will know that we have always struggled to maintain Sonny’s weight. For years he was drastically underweight due to food aversions and sensory sensitivities. When Sonny was experiencing periods of high anxiety, it was his eating that would suffer. Foods that he loved and enjoyed frequently, he refused. No matter how hungry we thought he would be, he wouldn’t eat. He was skin on bone, his clothes draped over his tiny frame and he lacked energy. This only made his meltdowns more frequent, more intense.
In the last year, Sonny’s physical appearance has changed quite a lot, he has grown tall, so tall! He has lost that dainty little boy look and has grown into a charming young man. Sonny has put on weight. I know. I can see. Yet people continue to comment on my son’s weight.
Please stop commenting on my son’s weight.
They say it to me like he’s a stranger and no son of mine, hunched towards me, words so whispered they almost make no sound at all.
‘He’s really chunked up hasn’t he!’
‘He’s got big! He’s put on a lot of weight hasn’t he!’
They even stop and pinch his ‘chubby’ cheeks.
He is my child. I love him and those comments can be hurtful. Especially when I look back and dwell on how much he has suffered and how much I have worried.
Sonny not only diagnosed ASD, is hypermobile and suffers daily pain in his joints. He cannot walk long distances and if he outdoes himself one day, he suffers tenfold the next. Sonny cannot cope with being in pain, it results in the most intense meltdowns and it becomes a challenge to keep him and his brothers safe when we are out.
If I managed to persuade Sonny to walk school for example and endure the pain *which I may add I refuse to do* he would only end up having an awful time at school. Being in pain would mean extreme anxiety. He would then struggle to self regulate and make positive choices. Bad day at school usually equals worse time at home after as he explodes from all the sensory overload. So it’s best for everybody all round that Sonny has support in all areas in which he needs them.
This never used to be such a major issue, as being so dinky he used to hop on the buggy board and we would walk the 20 minutes to school. His little brother would sit in the pushchair and his big brother walking along side us.
Thing is, time changes everything. Not only has Sonny grown but so has his little brother. He no longer wants to be in the pushchair, he wants to walk everywhere. With a spare seat Sonny now sits in the pushchair when he physically cannot walk any further.
It’s not only weight comments we have to endure. It’s also the comments or looks we get when Sonny is seen sitting in a buggy. The buggy is a good size so he doesn’t look silly in it or anything it’s just people don’t see a disability like Autism or hypermobility so they feel the need to make comments.
‘Aren’t you too big for that?’
‘Are you being lazy?’
‘Is it your turn being the baby?’
I’ve even had ‘Don’t you worry about what others will think of him?’
I thought it was fairly obvious that comments like these can be quite hurtful.
As Sonny has got older, he struggles more and more with his mobility and keeping as active as his brothers. As a result he has put on a little weight. He is unable to loose it the way other active neurotypical children would.
Sonny is aware of how his body is changing as he gets older. He knows he cannot sit in toys he used to or that his shoes or clothes become a little snug. He is aware that he has a little belly on him and he often says to me ‘Am I fat Mummy?’
I grew up extremely body conscious and that is not something I want for any of my children.
Instead of comments like those I have mentioned, I would much rather people said the following.
‘Wow, haven’t you grown!’
‘You look so grown up now.’
‘You look very strong and healthy.’
A smile goes such a long way and can really brighten up a SEN parents day!
If you see an older child in a pushchair please don’t assume the child or parent is lazy or that they aren’t aware of their age or size. Assume there is a valid reason for that child being in a pushchair, be it comfort, safety or both.
Please stop commenting on my sons weight.