Monday, February 2, 2015
Autism - Respect
On Thursday night, I ran into Kent's grocery store on my way home. As soon as I walked in, a lady who I would guess was about my age, yelled out to me (I think), "What kind of chips should I get my mom?!!" There were a lot of people in the store and I was about 20 yards away from her. In the past, I have to admit shamefully, that I would have ignored the "crazy lady" and kept walking. Afterall, I was in a hurry and she was clearly "different." This time, though, I yelled back, "I really love Fritos!" She seemed very happy with my answer, grabbed a bag of Fritos and continued on to the Produce department, where I heard her yell, "Do you have vegetables?!!" I went on with my shopping, not able to stop smiling. I headed back to the Deli so that I could grab some chicken for my family for dinner. Soon, she came back to the Deli also. It was busy and there were several people in line. She wheeled her cart right up and said, "I need some chicken!!" Everyone either ignored her or gave her a dirty look. Then she said, "My mom is in the car and she said she wants chicken!! I need some chicken. Does this list say what kind of chicken she wants?!!" A sweet lady from behind the counter came out, looked at the "list" and tried her best to decifer what it said so that she could help her. Out came the chicken for my new friend. She wheeled her cart closer to mine, and in a very adult tone asked, "What are you making for the super bowl? I need to get on that!" I told was, honestly, so glad she started a conversation with me again! I was kind of, like REALLY, digging her at this point! I told her that I really didn't know yet, but that any food would make my four boys happy. She then went a completely different direction with the conversation and asked, "I need to get my keys back from my sister and she is at work until 5:30 so do you think I have time to run there and get them and then still get home and take care of my dogs?" I told her that I thought she would be fine. She smiled and left, satisfied with her grocery shopping adventure. My purpose for telling you this story is this - respect! She was different. She was probably annoying to some. She was odd to others. She was just in the way to yet others. However, I took the time, finally, to have a respectful conversation with her and I am the one who left feeling SO MUCH happier than when I walked in!! Below is a set of pictures. They were taken at the Gator Park in Florida. They are in order. Colton was petrified of holding a live gator. SO WAS I!! Aunt Tiffany immediately stepped in and quietly, and slowly, talked him through holding the gator. As you can see, his expression changes as time goes on. He was able to focus on her voice and on her confidence. Within minutes, he was holding the gator without her within feet of him. He was SO proud of himself! He accomplished something BIG because someone was willing to take a few minutes to respect Colton's need. There were a lot of people in line to hold the gator and I'm sure that some were thinking, "Just get on with it already!!" But, they didn't know Colton. Aunt Tiffany did. She knew exactly what he needed. She gave it to him. Please, please, please respect those who are different. Take the time to remember that they are people too, with needs, desires, and so much to offer!