Being in a new place – with new surroundings, new people, new sounds, new lights, new everything – can be trying for any child. However, for my Jack it’s A LOT. It’s a challenge and something we all have to work hard towards together as a family. But we do it. We want to. Albeit a lot easier, we don’t want to always stay in our comfort zone of home.
When the environment gets to be too much for Jack, he stims a lot more (in his case, jumping and flapping) in order to calm himself and process all of this unfamiliarity. When this is happening, he may not be able to take everything in around him. He needs to block out certain things in order to process just what he can at that given time.
As we walked through the lobby of the hotel last week during the kid’s Spring break, with all the newness completely surrounding him, my Jack was jumping, flapping and humming away. I tried to take him by the hand so he wouldn’t bump into the group of people I saw walking right towards us, which he was obviously oblivious to.
Jack almost walked straight into a woman who was trying to make eye contact with him and get his attention. “It’s like he’s in his own little world,” the women said aloud, as the group all innocently chuckled in agreement and stared at my sweet Jack.
The woman then said loudly directly to Jack: “Hi there, what’s your name?” to which it would appear that he either did not hear or blatantly ignored.
“This is Jack,” I replied, as I knelt down to Jack’s level to get his attention.
As I gently grabbed ahold of his fluttering hands and gained eye contact with my boy, I prompted “Say ‘hi,’ Jack.”
“Hi Jack!” my sweet boy parroted. His jumping had now gained a bit more momentum and he tugged my hand to continue on our way.
The woman and I quickly exchanged smiles and we all went on our separate ways.
You see, no matter how far I think we have come, being out in public always humbles me and puts the reality into perspective.
They didn’t know that Jack has come a long way and this was AMAZING behavior for him in a new environment like this. They didn’t know that for a while it truly did seem like he was in his own little world; a scary, isolated world at times. They didn’t know just how much that little world has grown with a lot of hard work and patience. They didn’t know that a year ago we would be dealing with tantrums and epic public melt-downs. To them, he looked like a typical 3 year old boy that was overly excited and just distracted for a brief moment.
It’s in moments like these that make me pause for a moment and look back on how far we have come. To focus on how Jack continues to make huge strides.
The woman’s innocent comment did not offend or bother me in the least. She truly meant well and genuinely attempted to interact, which I so appreciate. I prefer that versus the stares that we sometimes get, believe me.
As this month of Autism Awareness soon comes to an end, my hope is that you came across a story, a share, a friend’s voice that opened your eyes to the world of autism and maybe had you see it in a different light, a brighter light.
For this, my friends, is why I continue to share our journey.