Autism has taught me to expect the unexpected from strangers in public. This week, I received a wonderful surprise! I took Charlie to the doctor to make sure his nose wasn’t broken after a particularly violent episode of self-injurious behaviors in ABA Therapy. I’ve been more vocal about the challenges Charlie faces due to his profound autism and this is one of the hardest ones.
To those strangers in the waiting room, thank you ❤️
In a minuscule, crowded waiting room, I sit with Charlie, waiting for the doctor’s verdict on whether his nose is broken or just badly bruised.
Three other boys around Charlie’s age are in the room, some quietly sitting, others engaged in conversation with their parents. Charlie, beside me with his communication device, is stimming loudly—very loudly.
It’s not that I’m ashamed, but those familiar looks when my big boy flails his arms and squeals—I feel them intensely. They’re heavy.
With autism, I don’t relish the attention, especially in public, and in this moment, all eyes are on us.
I whisper to Charlie to be a little quieter, but he screams louder. His squeals echo in the confined waiting room, and I fear someone might ask us to leave.
With each passing minute, his screams intensify until…
“I. Want. French Fries” resonates from the speakers of his communication device, followed by a loud, joyous scream and a flurry of jumping and hand flapping.
I can’t help but smile at the unexpected desire for French fries at 9 am. The mother sitting in front of us replies with a hearty “me too buddy,” and I breathe a sigh of relief.
A minute later, the teenager beside us gets called up for his check-up. As he stands, his mom follows, and passing by, she says: “You’re doing a great job, mama.” A stranger thought I was doing a good job with my son who has profound autism…
I don’t consider myself very emotional, especially in public, but those words made me tear up.
Terrified in that waiting room for 15 minutes, all I received back was love and understanding.
To those strangers in the waiting room this morning, thank you ❤️ I’d say you’re doing a pretty darn good job too because your kids could have easily made fun of Charlie, but none of them did. There was just a quiet compassion. ❤️🩹