This weekend as we got out of the car in a busy grocery store parking lot, and I immediately reminded my son who has autism to “hold my hand we are in a parking lot”. I thought to myself…. Do people know?
When they see my seven year old son, who is nearly taller than I am, do they know he has autism?
They see us staying close to him, guiding him through public places with extra prompts and care. Facilitating responses when people talk to him, the extra time we have to take to convince him to try something new, or transition to home. They see him having a hard time, do they realize he’s combatting anxiety, sensory overload, behaviors that we are working on each and every day. That he isn’t being a defiant child, he’s having a meltdown and we have to work through it differently that you would expect.
Do they know I wondered, or are they just judging him.
Do they know how hard he works through the summer months and through the breaks other kids get for holidays?
Did someone remind them how much courage he has to walk into school, the grocery store, a new experience every single morning?
Do they know how hard it is for me to let him go, to spread his wings, to learn to fall and get back up, to try new things and make new friends?
Did they consider he can’t tell me about his day so I need his team to fill us in, on the good and the bad. The funny and the amazing surprises.
Do they know how much he’s loved and how brilliant he is?
Can they tell how funny, and sweet, and clever he is?
Do they know he loves trains, and snoopy, and his sonic sweatshirt, he has to have that for school.
Have they thought about how things are hard for him sometimes, but he’s a great problem solver and it’s ok to let him try to figure it out.
Do they know his sister loves him, and cheers him on, she’s at his school because she wants to be near him and watch out for him.
Do they know someone like my son? Someone who needs their patience, their kindness, inclusion.
When they see Jackson, do they see someone they know. Someone who makes them smile, and laugh, who has made a difference in their life they way my son has made a difference in mine.
Do they see him for all that he is?
Because they should, it’s a beautiful view from where I’m standing.