I was on a mission the other day.
The mission was to stock up on Jackson’s favorite spinnings. Spinnings which are not to be confused with BIG spinnings or pinwheels.
I trekked two towns over to the SAK’S FIFTH AVENUE of Dollar Stores. Truthfully. This is the best stocked, most awesome Dollar store EVER. Or not. It could just be that I need to get out more.
They did indeed have the multi-colored spinnings that I needed. For a buck (DUH!). So I stocked up.
While standing in line, the cashier mentioned that one of the five I was purchasing had squared edges, rather than round. Would that be OK?
I said, “Sure! No problem.”
She replied, “I thought if you were placing them in your garden, you’d want them all the same.”
“No,” I said “My son is autistic and he loves to play with them.”
Two lines over a man whipped his head over to my direction at the word “autistic”.
He fairly bounded over to me and said “Hey! Hey! You’re son is autistic!? I bet he LOVES to play minecraft!”
I stared at him.
“No. No he doesn’t”
He was undaunted, “Really? I heard that autistic kids LOVE minecraft. That’s the video game with the squares. Huh. He doesn’t like minecraft.”
And so he stared at me.
And I stared back.
He walked away.
Listen. If you know me in real life, then you know that I am a fairly friendly and gregarious person. I can chit chat with the best of them. But at that moment I was annoyed and irritated.
First– I was annoyed with myself. Did I REALLY need to call Jackson out like that? Couldn’t I have just as easily have said, “No, they’re not for my garden, but for my kid”? Yes. I could have.
Second- I was annoyed with that man. At the sound of the word “autistic” he had to run over and give me his two cents on it. He had to let me know that HE knew something about autism. Did he think I would find it clever? As if he produced a rabbit out of his hat?
“Why YES, Mr. Random Guy! How did you EVER know?! Aren’t you the smart one!” (and I would bat my eyes and smile at just how much this person KNEW about the autisms!!)
This encounter begs the question though: What do YOU know about AUTISM?
If you read my blog or follows Jack’s Facebook page, then you are familiar with OUR version of autism.
If you are the parent of an autistic child (or a child with autism), then you are familiar with YOUR version.
And sometimes? Traits and behaviors overlap. Food aversions, sleep patterns, stimms, etc.
And what we moms, dads, caregivers, etc GET is that:
It’s different for each and every one.
And so the ones that DO get it? They’re the ones that hear the word “autism” in the Dollar Store and give you a knowing smile. They’re the ones that pass you in the mall when your child is making a barking noise for the sheer joy of the echo and they nod and smile as they walk by you. They’re the ones that see a melt down and don’t automatically assume a child is a spoiled brat who needs a good spanking.
And the next time someone asks me why I’m buying a dozen spinnings, or several bags of fuzzballs, or why my grocery cart is filled to the top with bags of a specific type and brand of chip, I will just say:
“Because my son Jackson loves them.”