Sunday, February 3, 2013

Here's Your Card

I don't know if you are familiar with the comedian Bill Engvall from the Redneck Comedy Tour, but he does a skit that I think of often when I am out with my family.  Mr. Engvall talks about people who do stupid stuff or who ask stupid questions and instead of responding to them, he just wants to hand them a "stupid" sign while saying, "Here's your sign."  (If you haven't seen it or its just been awhile I attached a clip of his tour for you to watch.)  There are many, many times when we are out that I want to use this strategy, but in my own way.  I want to say "here's your card" when my son is doing something that a "normal" child would not do in public.  This is because it is always at those times, when my son is not having his best moment, that people stare and give looks that makes the whole situation that much worse.  It's not that I am embarrassed by my son, its that I want them to stop looking because that is what he is so afraid of and usually causing the actions in the first place.  Autism is the invisible syndrome.  My aspie looks like the adorable 4 year old that he is, and shows no signs of anything being "wrong."  Therefore, if he is having a meltdown people think he is just being a spoiled brat; not understanding that he has autism and social situations are horrible for him. The card would not be mean, but informative, something like this card.  Something simple, to the point to say, yup this is what autism looks like.

The first time I thought of the card was when my father and step mom took myself and the boys out to eat.  We usually only go to one local restaurant because eating out really makes my aspie nervous.  We can go to this one restaurant because they give the kids cookies at the end of the meal that my son loves.  On that particular day though, the restaurant was extremely busy.  Therefore, I was very nervous for my aspie and for my family who had never witnessed my aspie out in public before.  Well, things didn't go so well to say the least.  First off, my aspie was wearing his bath robe because it looks like the robe the boy from the Polar Express wears, a Super man t-shirt and his fireman galoshes, which is an usual outfit to say the least.  Therefore, people were looking at him as soon as we walked in.  OH NO, I start to think, but smile lovingly at him and the people.  Then the nice hostess sat us down in literally the middle of the restaurant next to the buffet.  Not good.  This means that no matter what direction my son looked, there were people.  People coming, people going.  People.  He couldn't escape them.  So he did they only thing he could think of; he grabbed his brother's bottle and hid under the table with his head buried in my leg nursing the bottle. I felt so bad for my son.  I wanted to grab him and leave, but I couldn't.  I knew I had to show him that its okay.  We can do this.  So instead, we stayed, ordered and ate.  When his food came I set it on the seat of the bench so he could pick at it if he felt like it.  The whole time people looked; some looked sympathetically, some quizzically, some meanly.  If I had cards, I would have been throwing them out like ninja stars.  A card for you, a card for you and your clan, and a card for you.  There you go.  When we were leaving, with his cookie in his hand, he said "Mommie, my skin hurts."  At that time I didn't know what it meant, but as I have come to learn more about this syndrome, I have learned that many kids with asperger's feel things differently.  A sort of sensory overload that makes them feel senses unlike us "norms," and therefore, his skin probably did hurt.

After the restaurant incident, the idea of the card became sort of fun for me to think of when something went down.  Of course, these occurrences often times occurs at Walmart, our favorite store (see post below.) 

One given Friday evening, my aspie and me were having a mommie and me night out.  I needed a laptop charger because my aspie had taken mine apart and the puppy Charlie got a hold of it and chewed it up.  I warned my aspie that I was going to ask for help and that a worker was going to come over.  He decided to hide on the lowest shelf right next to me, where the computer printers were stored.  For extra security he put a printer box in front of him.  I called over a worker who came to assist me.  After I figured out my purchase she explained that I needed to check it out in the electronics department.  I said, oh okay, well I will meet you at the register, my son is very shy and is hiding.  Oh, she says.  Where is your son?  I point to his hiding spot where his shoe is sticking out.  Oh, well I'm great with kids, she says.  Oh yes I am sure, I say, but he is really scared and will come out when you leave.  Well, that's just ridiculous, she says as she was moving the printer box in front of my son.  Before, I could say anything else, my son screams, "I don't like you and don't touch the box!"  Here's your card. 

Another night, again at Walmart, I was looking for water filters going up and down the isles and my aspie was walking next to me.  There were some teenagers who were playing a little game of hide 'n seek in the store being a bit rowdy.  As I was walking down an isle I herd some boxes fall and looked back to see what had happened.  Apparently, my son got frightened at the yelling from the teenagers and took cover on one of the lower shelves again.  This time, he was paralyzed with fear.  It's okay, I said, Mommie will sit next to you on the floor until you are ready to come out.  And so I sat.  As I was sitting there, a store employee noticed as he walked by.  A few minutes later he walked by again.  And again.  Then he walked by with another employee.  Each time I sat there smiling at them like nothing was wrong.  They were looking at me as if I just thought it was a good spot to sit down and people watch.  And finally, after one more pass, he and the fellow employee stopped over to see if they could help me with something.  No, I am just waiting for my son.  He is scared and I am waiting for him to emerge.  What is he afraid of?  Those boys, as I explain the story.  Oh, but they are just stupid teenagers, they say, in my son's direction.  Why don't you come out of their like a good boy?  Wow, I didn't think of asking him that, I think.  Well, sir, I say, I would just like for him to have a few more moments, I know he will come out.  Well, do you want us to help you get him out?  No, I said, he will just get more upset, he is okay.  Well, I will just move these boxes so he can get out easier, one of them states.  Oh, no that is not necessary, I started to say when all hell broke loose.  Boxes started flying and legs were flailing and words were being said.  I reached in grabbed my son, and rocked him until he calmed down.  I then picked him up, put him in the cart, and helped the men clean up.  The men looked at me, at this point, looking more scared then my son when they saw his true fear, and all I could think about was:  Here's your card. 

There are many other times where a card would have come in handy.  The time he threw a container of cheese curls and they went everywhere.  The time he screamed, "I don't like you" at an older man who was trying to get my son to tell him his name, and the time that he gave a woman the evil stare because she asked him what was the name of the train he was holding.  Yes, there are many.  Of course my husband has another way of dealing with this.  When these things happen and people give my son a what's wrong with you look, he says"You got something on you mind there Chief?"  It makes the point too.  Here's your card. 

Don't forget to go to I Laugh, I Breathe, I Drink....Because page to let off some steam!  Also, please like me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest using the icons on the right hand side!  Thanks!

No comments: