“I am sorry, Mommy. I cannot wait.”
That’s the cry of a 5 year- old boy at one of the rides in Sea World, Gold Coast Australia.
He was struggling to stay in line to wait for his turn. His Mommy was struggling to make him stay. He cried even louder, rushed to the front of the line and got the other kids complaining to his Mommy that he had cut queue.
All eyes began to shift to them. Some were disgusted, others smiled. Mommy was embarrassed, the boy had just lost it. No one said anything, no one knew what to do. Mommy didn’t know either, she just hugged her son tightly with teary eyes.
He is my 5 year-old son with autism. He looks so normal, some say. Who can see he has autism? Children with autism is a child with eyes, ears, nose, hands, feet and all their body parts intact. Their condition is invisible, their inner struggles, silent.
They are often being seen as “naughty” or that their parent doesn’t know how to teach them. Even with an ID to show their condition, the staff at attractions (KidZania, Malaysia) won’t acknowledge it.
We want you to know that we do not flash it as an excuse to get ahead, we just want you to be aware that this child is different.
Such children cannot wait well, they may be experiencing some uncontrollable anxiety or sensory overload which is too overwhelming for them.
Please don’t tell us to buck off. Their favourite phrase being – “This is the policy! Everyone must STAY in queue, we don’t give priority to anyone!” Or more insult – “Hey people in the queue! Will you let them cut queue?!” (these were the exact words used on us at SeaWorld, Australia).
When will they understand that we have been in the queue longer than anyone else and no matter how the queue moves we are still the last in the queue? We will never get to the front.
What do we really need?
We need you to understand the situation, notice us when we tell you that we are already in the queue for a long time, know that we have a child with special needs. Please help us if you can, we won’t be pulling out our autism card if we are not desperate. Please do not tell us off as if we are faking our way for a special privilege.
My son cannot wait,
but we have waited longer than anyone else in the queue.
My son is struggling, he knows he need to queue.
He has apologised for his behaviour,
but he still can’t do it, he must constantly move.
And he will wander,
but he won’t come back to me.
I can’t afford to lose my son,
I must follow.
We cannot STAY in line.
Please, if you ever encounter parents telling you that their children have special needs, please try your best to accommodate their request. Trust me, trust my son as how we have trusted that you will give us a wonderful experience at your attractions.