I’m tired. It has been a long day of traveling, a long week of dealing with my father and insurance companies and rehabs. A week away from my babies, my husband my BED! All I really want to do is take a shower right now and then sit with my kids relaxing on the couch cuddling. But I feel the need to write this post now while it is all fresh in my head. While it is raw and I am still able to hear the words that were spoken in my head clearly. I still am not sure how I could possibly have had two so completely different experiences happen to me within an hours time. Yet I did!
I am a talker. When I am forced to wait in line I tend to seek out others you know to commiserate with, make the time go by faster. The TSA line in Miami was huge so of course when the woman in front of me engaged me in conversation… I gladly chatted back. I am not really sure why but for some reason I mentioned how the last time I flew I was with my children and well we did not wait in that long line as we were taken to the front once I told them that my son had autism and could not handle an hour wait. This sweet stranger in front of me smiled at me and said… “My grandson has Aspergers!” Needless to say the hour wait it took us until it was our turn to have our tickets, bags and body scanned flew by. After all I was talking to a fellow CLUB member.
I told my new friend about this blog and then we parted ways, each of us off to catch our separate planes. While sitting at my gate waiting until boarding time I could not help but feel like that was a good sign… a nice welcome back to my WORLD. Perhaps that is why I felt so blindsided but what happened next?
I politely helped the 60 something year old woman who said she was to short to reach with storing her bag in the overhead compartment, after all she would be sitting next to me for the next two hours, might as well be nice. She thanked me and then she and her NEW husband (as I soon found out they were coming back from their honeymoon cruise) climbed into our row. While squeezing by she happened to notice the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum Book that was laying on my seat. “Oh I love those Chicken Soup Books” she said as she put on her glasses, grabbed my book and took a closer look. As if the book was on fire she quickly handed it back when she read the title and just looked at me. I am not sure why but I felt the need to explain why I was reading it so I said, “My son has Autism, Aspergers and well… one of my stories about him is in this book. I am hoping to finally get to read all the others”, I said and smiled. ” Oh” she said and patted my arm and then she asked me, “Are you okay?” I must have looked confused as she continued on, ” I mean I’m so sorry!”
Oh God I thought to myself not that SORRY word again. I have already written a post about how I feel about that one. Not wanting to go there again, wanting desperately to give this woman the benefit of doubt that she was just a nice lady who didn’t know better, I said, “I’m not! My son is wonderful. He is smart, funny, loving and one of the most compassionate people I know. There is no doubt in my mind that he and my daughter who does not have autism will both go on to do amazing things with their lives.” Then for the first time the husband spoke up and said, “But he has some obsessions I am sure right? And is well … you know quirky?” I smiled and replied, “He has certain subjects that he enjoys more than others if that is what you mean and yes sometimes he can be a bit quirky. But non of his FRIENDS and Honor class teachers seem to mind too much” I added perhaps stressing the words a little to to much. To which this woman replied in a very shocked way…
“ARE YOU SURE HE IS AUTISTIC?”
I just looked at her and then thought about the other woman whom I chatted with early and how I thought it was such a good sign and then this… this ignorance, this prejudice this misinformed soul who has no clue as to how much people with DIFFERENT abilities are capable of. I could feel the tears forming in my eyes and a lump in my throat and I was determined to not cry for then she would pity me and all her preconceived perceptions would just be confirmed. But I had to say something, do something so all I said was…
“Yes I am quite sure that he is WONDERFULLY Autistic and that I am blessed to know him.” then I opened up my book and started reading and did not say a word to her or husband the rest of the flight.
When I got home after all the kisses and hugs from BOTH my children I felt the need to tell them what happened on the plane. I never want my boy to be ashamed of who he is, but I also want him and my daughter to understand how so many people out there just don’t get it. After telling my tale Jay patted my arm and said, “Mom you let your anger get in the way of educating someone.” Then he walked away!
I have no nice tidy ending to this post. My son said it all. My Wonderfully Autistic eloquent wise beyond his years son said it all! I truly am blessed to know him!