Yesterday’s field trip

Yesterday, Joey and I got brave and took Tony to Wal-Mart.  It has been quite a long time since we’ve taken him there on our own.  I seem to remember a time when he had an incredibly loud meltdown in the middle of Wal-Mart… it’s a vague memory. 

If I haven’t mentioned it, I have a “gift” of blocking out stressful memories — or maybe not blocking them out, but filing them away because my stress bucket gets full.  I like to think of it as a “gift”, because I’d be walking a fine line if I held on to all that stress.

I’m not a huge fan of Wal-Mart…. mostly because of their business practices and because of the harmful ingredients they market for their own line of products.  But you can’t deny their low prices on old movies, gluten free dry goods, and adult shoes with velcro.  —–    just my opinion.

We had talked about the field trip on one of our long car rides this past weekend.  I asked if he wanted to go look for shoes, since Beau had chewed his sandals and his shoes (much prevoked, I’m sure, by Tony).  So this morning he came into my office and said very quietly “Wal-Mart today?”  “New shoes?”  “I like headphones” (meaning that he could wear headphones to block out unpredictable noises).   I couldn’t say no.  He was using his manners, asking appropriate questions, and actually problem solving all at once.  Another breakthrough. 

Thank goodness for the headphones, because as we pulled up we saw major construction at the local Wal-Mart.  (heaven help me…)   We got out and chased after Tony as he ran excitedly into the store.  We found the shoes and he got a five dollar movie — Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn (his favorite classic).  I couldn’t resist.  Then he asked “Treat for Beau?”.  Again, he had me at his mercy.  I was so excited for the conversation – broken English or not. 

As we left the store he said “goodbye, friend!” to the greeter.  She smiled – obviously understanding our situation, as Tony had not one but two headsets on.  One small pair from his DVD player, and his big noise-cancelling headphones for school.  I had to laugh.  I didn’t see that as he got out of the car.  He was very prepared!

I asked Joey is anyone stared or if he was uncomfortable at all.  He said he didn’t care if anyone stared — he loves his brother.  Joey said he’d just say “My brother has autism.  What’s your problem?”   I decided that wasn’t very polite — especially for a 13 year old.  So I gave him some better words to use next time (just in case he ever needs them).  How about  “Hi.  My brother has autism.  Do you have any questions?”   Joey was okay with that. 

Another teachable moment.   For all of us. 



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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a wonderful story! I laughed out loud at the headphone description!! Way to go Tony…and Joey…and Becki!! Keep up the awesome job 🙂 xoxoxox

  2. I enjoyed this story very much. I have two boys 15 & 7 my little guy has autism and I can relate 100% to your stories-experiences I should say. What everyone else considers easy- a trip to the store/park etc. for our children it really is a big deal. I do wish people would be a little more understanding. I too do not appreceiate the stares and occasional “if that were my child I would _____” remarks. I try to keep my cool as best i can but theyre are times when I shoot back and say “Excuse me my child has autism that is why he is acting that way” this usually ends it. And if I have to do that a million times for my Brabdon I will. 🙂

  3. I would like to speak on behalf of the other side (people who don’t have personal experience with autism). I know it is impolite to stare at someone who has a ‘problem’ or disability and i try not to. But some of us actually have compassion for them and we are not accusing anyone. I personally wish i could do something to help them. Just please understand not all of us are thinking bad thoughts. Thanks

    • Thank you for your comments. It means a lot. And yes, we need to be reminded once in a while that not all glances are bad glances…

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