Hand-holding is weird. I don’t mind holding kids’ hands, but you know kids—they can’t be bothered with it. My middle brother had an Elmo harness my mom frequently used because he was quite the fearless redhead (and still is). When he wasn’t running out into the street, he was jumping off the dining room table and hitting his head on the floor…or the table…and getting back up again. He was a kid with an imagination on a mission to fly.
I don’t know if he’s autistic, but that’s not the point of this—I am for putting kids on leashes if it means they will be kept safe, be them autistic or allistic, verbal or nonverbal.
The controversy regarding this topic baffles me, because the people who are against kid harnesses compare the kids in harnesses to animals—mostly dogs—which isn’t a great point of arguing if you consider non-abusive reasons dogs are typically put on leashes: to keep them safe.
And this topic as a whole is important to me, because not only do I wish for all my children to be adopted, but I pray God will help guide me to a life in which I can adopt children who need a little more help—children with special needs, if you will—because my step-grandparents were foster parents who often took these children in temporarily. Children with special needs are less likely to be adopted, and more likely to be abused and/or exploited.
And I, too, would use a kid leash/harness on my child if s/he often ran out/away from me in public, because it would be my job, as a parent, to keep him/her safe. I’m not going to tie the leash to a column or a pole and leave my child to entertain him/herself whilst I go outside to get the mail or into my bathroom to take a shower. Not only am I against dogs kept on leashes attached to poles, but I’m probz. “Most Likely to Be a Helicopter Parent”, thanks to my own neglected childhood and Lifetime’s movies about the many ways children can die/get into trouble/get hurt/etc.
Before I’m bombarded with “How would you feel if you were on a leash?” questions: As an adult autistic who dislikes hand-holding even for prayer, who has also had to navigate a crowd of people multiple times in an attempt to follow friends and family members, I often find myself wishing it was socially acceptable to not only use leashes for kids, but for adults as well. Really, I wish the world was more accommodating for and accepting of autistic people and it was the default, meaning all those stares I tend to receive in grocery stores when I’m in the international aisle and choosing my Pocky were not stares that said, “Something is obviously wrong with her,” but instead, “Oh, my gosh! A fellow autistic person?! #happystimming”
So, to the parents of autistic or allistic children who need to use leashes to keep their kids safe, who use leashes responsibly: you keep doing you.
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I don’t think it’s mistreatment. But I also feel like children need to be taught to behave and a leash is like training wheels and you can’t keep the training wheels on for too long. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but in general I view a leash as a lack of obedience and discipline, rather than any sort of moral injustice or whatever.
Ah, but what about the cases which go beyond lack of obedience and discipline? Autistics, for example, tend to wander. The whole this-is-a-dangerous-world thing isn’t obvious to a lot of us.
I just saw a kid on a leash this past weekend – I didn’t feel the parent was mistreating his kid – instead I thought about how much wandering and running that kid must do for his father to decide to put him on a leash. It’s not something I would do – I love holding hands and hugging in prayer haha – but I know people have different ways they feel about contact. I know it looks like comparing a kid to a dog but why risk endangering your child for the judgment of someone who you will never see again?
I suppose it is socially unacceptable to have your child on a leash, because people liken it to slavery and other nasty things. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t feel good when I see kids on leashes. But usually they are running around and the parents must have trouble controlling their child. It’s just hard, for me personally, to shake the fact that it looks like the kid is trapped.
If the kid was not on a leash I would see them as free to roam, but I cannot judge how the parent feels about their child running free. They might be scared, concerned, afraid. The kid might not have had much exposure outside in crowds. For safety, I completely understand. But your post made me think next time before I judge someone whose kid is on a leash.