"Is Your Son Really That Difficult?"

[mb] Vertical Blinds 3
Photo © Merrick Brown
at Flickr
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 enthusiasm.

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 difficult situation, when it can be avoided?

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.


  1. I'm so glad that you had such a positive advocacy experience, and that the salesperson got it and was so thoughtful...

    but oh lordy, looking at those vertical blinds is giving me a flashback. We had them in two rooms in the house we lived in when my sons were toddlers and preschoolers, and the vertical blind were like magnets to them. I never thought about it until now, but of course there was a sensory component to it.

    Although, truth be told, every single toddler or preschooler, neurotypical or otherwise, that came to my house ended up pulling down some of those blinds. Never. Again.

  2. It's not that Leo is difficult -- it's that I know what can be difficult for him." Perfect.

    We are currently curtain-free in our living room :)

  3. Anonymous7:07 PM

    We had to replace the regular blinds (horizontal, not vertical) in my son's bedroom with a roller shade when he was a couple years old. He absolutely could not resist standing on the table by his window and rattling those blinds to bits!

  4. I must confess, I do feel that hint of pull towards vertical blinds that seems to mark common autistic obsessions, even when they're not my particular favorite stims or special interests. I can understand wanting to play with them, too.

  5. Android App Developer6:22 AM

    I must admit, I think pull up vertical blinds, which seems to emphasize common obsessions autism, even if they are not my favorite special treatment or special interests. I can understand wanting to play with them, too.



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