How to respond, my older children noticed others staring at their little brother
My almost 3 year old has special needs and can quickly get upset and scream when we are out. I do my best to minimize outings, things that are potentially upsetting for him and bring things that are soothing for him (like a vibrating animal toy or his sensory brush) but on occasion, we just have to go places like the pharmacy. I do try to pick times that are less busy and stores that are less overwhelming. He has sensory processing issues but also has a blood sugar disorder (among other things) and his sugars can drop too low very fast. His initial symptom is irritability so he has frequent episodes of getting very upset that sometimes are completely out of his control. I do have a test kit on us at all times so I can test him and respond accordingly to his numbers.
We were waiting in the pharmacy line (to pick up an epipen refill, the other expired and the dr was slow to call in the refill so I couldn't wait to pick up another day or time) and we were next in line but I really think his sugars were a bit low as well & he started to scream. I usually don't even look at or make eye contact with others since I know people stare. He looks much older than he is due to his large size and doesn't appear to have any visual handicap so people usually don't consider that there is more to the story than just a loud child or a parent not doing what they may expect in that situation. I do my best to make sure he isn't doing something to possibly hurt someone else, like throwing something but aside from that, there isn't much I can do aside from doing my best to quickly get in and out.
I have learned to ignore others who have a problem or stare but my 10 & 13 year olds were with me and when we got back to the car, they were really upset. They said the lady behind me was making rude faces (my back was to her so I didn't see) & clearly not happy that ds was loud. I had him in a stroller, I moved him away from the people as much as possible (of course they had a peanuts display in front of the register so I had to point him in the other direction since he's super allergic) and was speaking softly to him while trying to give my info to the cashier. I understand that no one enjoys waiting in line with a loud child so I do my best to be considerate but my first responsibility is to my son and his needs.
I wasn't sure how to respond to my daughters. And then after they said something, my son says "that lady was looking at me" and he got upset. That is the first time he noticed that and it felt crappy. My heart breaks to see him starting to realize that people see him differently and not in a positive way. I just tried to reassure the girls that sometimes people don't know that he has different needs than other children and don't know our/his situation so they are reacting to what they are incorrectly assuming about how he's acting and how I am responding. I said that we know why he is doing different things and what he needs and that is what is important.
I'm not sure if anyone else has found themselves in a situation like that, where a sibling spots others staring or reacting in public to their special needs sibling and how they found best to address that? I guess I was just caught off guard when the girls asked about that and it hurt to see all 3 of them hurt by the situation.
Mom to my girls ('94), ('99) & ('02)
And my little guy (12/09)