How quickly I go into a defensive mode. Am I jaded? Do I think everyone’s out to get me? I have no idea. We are on vacation right now and a few days ago we took the children to Disney World. In the past we have always gotten the “special needs” pass for Mr. M. Sometimes we used it, sometimes we didn’t. This year, M was having a difficult time transitioning to the crowds and noise and movement all around him, so we went to get the “pass”. They have a new-ish pass now that is linked to your park tickets or your park magic band and has a photo attached to it, so that it can’t be sold or used by someone not in your party. The cast member at the counter wanted to know what we needed the pass for, a perfectly reasonable question and why I thought we would need a pass for him throughout the day. I told her and she accepted my explanation immediately, but for some reason, I felt the need to defend my response. “Look at him, ” I said, “he can’t even stand here with me right now. There is no way he is going to make it through a lengthy queue with a crowd of people in the hot sun”. At this point, M was jumping up and down hurling himself towards the service counter trying to pull his body up and then crashing down on the floor where he would lay down and spread out as if he were making snow angels on the linoleum. He was turning his head from side to side repeating noises, “bleh bleh bleh”, is a favorite phrase at the moment (from Hotel Transylvania 2). By the time we left, I felt like she didn’t believe me, even with the obvious display of noise sensitivity and over-stimulation. I would like to point out that now, looking back, I am sure ALL of this was in my head. She was perfectly polite and helpful. However, at this point, with a 9-year-old on the spectrum, why in the world would I even care if a cast member at a theme park thought I was trying to “pull one over” on the system? I have tougher skin than that. Or at least I think I do. Maybe I don’t? Maybe I am tired. Am I constantly on the defensive so much in educational and extra-curricular settings that its an auto-response to anyone who questions my son’s diagnosis and our family’s hard work to handle the situation? Two years ago when we took the children to WDW, I actually brought a copy of M’s diagnosis from the doctor so that I wouldn’t even have to go into the details of his neuro-difficulties. Occasionally we have (a few – definitely not all) school administrators who declare they don’t believe M has a spectrum disorder at all. That throws me into defense mode awfully fast. They think he is stubborn or simply not trying with his schoolwork, often failing to keep in mind the amount of energy he has to expend in order to hold himself together to interact with other students and adults in an appropriate manner while managing the amplified sounds of the lights buzzing, and ambient classroom noises and movements. His day is exhausting. Every day. I suppose that I feel a need to protect him from the blindness that some others have when interacting with him. Eventually, I imagine I will have to let down my guard a little to gradually allow him to learn to handle those situations on his own. That makes me exhausted just thinking about it! Alas, that is another problem for another day.