A Diary of a Mom shared a link today that I had to pass on http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/changing-lives/. It really hit home for me because I hear about these run ins with ignorant people quite often. I also have talked about that I have never ever had anyone confront my family in this way. I have only had people say encouraging things to me. I am not sure why I have lucked out in this way, but I have. I'm sure some people thought about it, but have never confronted me. I am thankful for that, because I honestly don't know what I'd do. I don't mean I would retreat. I think I would probably start a fight! There is nothing worse than getting mama bear riled up!
Part of the reason I'm sharing this is because Saturday night my family went out to eat. If you aren't from here, I'll try to describe this place for you. It is called Crunchy's. It has been in our area forever. When I was in college I spent a LOT of time here. Sort of like Cheers but not as nice, it's friendly, but a bit more dive like, which only lends itself to the appeal in my opinion. Burgers, beer, pizza and lots and lots of TVs. We haven't been going there for long because the fear of the "Belle Tire guy" had kept us away. Now we usually don't go if the Detroit Tigers or Redwings are playing because Belle Tire is their sponsor and therefore more Belle Tire commercials. But Saturday night we were going out to dinner...well, because we had to. There were no options at home. I thought Olga's was on the table and somehow Crunchy's was decided. I knew the Tiger's were on but that was the decision. We warned Daniel. He has improved so much that now he just looks away and hides when the little evil guy comes on the TV so we thought we'd give it a whirl. He's still scared, but he is dealing with it. How awesome is that!?
Crunchy's was crazy busy and we lucked out with a booth. Daniel likes that they have a pinball machine there, so he gets a bunch of quarters and plays. This is an excellent distraction while waiting for food! Service was a little slower than normal because of how busy it was, but the pinball helps.
Our server came to our table, and I'm going to say his name, Brandon, because he handled this so well....Brandon walked up to our table and right when he did, the Belle Tire guy came on the TV behind him. Of course Brandon had no idea this was happening or that it would ever affect my 6' tall child. But Daniel looked like someone smacked him the way he jumped and then he ducked. He had his head down as far as he could, about level with the booth and looking toward the wall next to us and then Daniel says super casually, "hi Brandon" (in what I could tell was a voice he was trying to control) "I'd like a burger that's totally plain, no cheese, no toppings and fries and a Sprite." All while looking under the table. Brandon was completely unfazed and said "no problem! sounds good!" like they were looking at each other talking and this happens every day. Todd and I were both smiling and the rest went on like "normal". The waiter never blinked. If anything, he was nicer. Just like the people in this video.
Autism awareness is working. People are understanding that he isn't being rude, that something is a little "off" and here's the best part THEY DON'T CARE. As this What Would You Do? shows, people not only don't care but stand up to the jerk who does. This made my day, but it also made me cry. Cry because I was so over come with how many people were angry and jumped in to their defense.
It also reminded me of vacation. Zach and I were eating out alone. At first I didn't notice the boy next to me, but as we were looking at our menus I saw him start walking back and forth. He had an I Touch. I heard a bit of "face" from Nick Jr and it reminded me of Daniel. Then I glanced at my phone and as soon as I did he was looking over my shoulder (literally) at my I phone. I put it down and he walked away. His parents didn't notice. Zach and I smiled at each other, both knowing immediately what was up. Then I started to pay more attention out of the corner of my eye. He was pacing, snapping his fingers compulsively and looking at his I touch with full attention. Then I picked up my phone again and within a split second he was over my shoulder again. This time his mom saw him and she called him back and apologized in a way that I have done many times. They were getting ready to leave as she was apologizing. I smiled and said, "really, it's not a problem" and they left. Little did they know, how much I understood. In my case autism awareness is because I live with it at home. But I have to think part of it has been the relentless autism awareness campaigns over the past 10 years. But it is also, sadly, due to the new statistic released this month. 1 in 88 kids are diagnosed with autism. I'll say that again, 1 in 88. So I have to think pretty much everyone knows someone diagnosed with autism. A friend, a nephew, a grandchild, a neighbor. We still don't know why this is happening, but I am happy to know that people are being more accepting of it. April is autism awareness month. Pay it forward and let someone know they are accepted in our community. Watch the video to remind yourself how to respond to support families with autism.
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