Exposing him to the Outside World

I went to the bank today. A mundane errand to most…but never to me.

In fact, when I have time, I make it a point to get out of my car and go inside the establishment. I do this for two reasons.

One: I like to get my steps in where I can, and I also like to encourage my kids to do the same.

Two: My son Dawson LOVES the bank.

As soon as we walk in, he goes straight for the chairs. You know those fancy ones they have in the lobby? Oh yeah, he loves them.

He has to try out every single one, so it’s pretty great when they’re all empty.

Unfortunately, he’s not above trying out occupied chairs. Not my proudest moment, but I try to detour him.

A kid with autism…trying to distract him from what he wants?! That’s hilarious, and almost impossible.

Dawson spent the majority of his time testing out each chair, multiple times. After which he decided to give the coffee table a try. Meh.

It’s not that busy, screw it. Do your thing kid.

The loan lady called me up. I had two options-grab Dawson and bring him with, or leave him be. In his own world on the coffee table across the lobby.

I chose the latter. I listened and answered questions the loan lady had for me, while maintaining a direct visual on Dawson.

He’s fast, and there are automatic doors. I watch closely….when he’s done, he’s done.

The bank is starting to get a little busier. Which in turn makes Dawson’s vocals escalate. Not in a bad way, the opposite actually.

He lets out loud squeals and screams, while slapping his hand on the table. He is so excited.

Two people sit next to Dawson in the chairs by the coffee table. They’re looking around, wondering whom this child belongs to.

It didn’t take long to realize he was mine. They’re judging me. They’re judging him.

A few more people have trickled in the line. There’s too many people in my way now. One wrong move and he’s out that door. I need to get him. Now.

I apologized to the lady. I retrieve a reluctant Dawson and bring him to the desk. Before he could even sit down, he spotted the Lysol disinfectant wipes.

He runs straight behind her desk to grab them. I try to stop him, but it’s too late.

He knocks over almost everything on one side of her desk in his successful attempt to grab the wipes. I’m sweating.

I don’t give a shit if people judge my parenting based on my child’s behavior, or say something just loud enough for me to hear. But, I do genuinely care if my son disturbs other peoples belongings or carelessly disregards their personal space.

Both of which he did to this loan lady.

I grabbed Dawson, and I apologized again. She offers him coloring crayons, which is a very kind, but a completely pointless gesture.

She waits for Dawson to grab them and say thank you. I thank her and grab the crayons and paper. We attempt to proceed with the questions, as she assures me we are almost through.

Dawson sits in his chair, putting his hand on his voice box while he tests out his vocal chords…very loudly. He’s getting excited again. He starts kicking the desk and giggling. People stare. They can’t help it. Neither can I.

While I know in my gut their reasons for staring (curious about his behaviors, noises and quirks) I like to convince myself it’s because they find him as beautiful and amazing as I do. So carefree and in love with this moment.

I wish I could be more like him.

I snap back to reality as we try to get through these endless questions.

A man comes out, he works at the bank. He kneels down next to Dawson and talks to him as if he is a typically developing adult. He uses grown up words, looks right in his eyes…knowing he won’t get answer.

This man is familiar with the world I live in. He is here to lend a hand, and help an exhausted mom get through this simple appointment.

This man knows autism.

Dawson likes him, a lot. He reaches out to hold the mans hands. The man accepts.

They walk behind the desk and Dawson leads him to the Lysol wipes.

Hesitant, the man explains that he can’t let him play with the wipes…but he can sit at his desk and spin on his chair. This made all of us very happy.

I sign some paperwork and finish up the appointment. I stand up and before I could thank this man for the incredible patience and kindness he showed my son…he tells me that I have an amazing young boy.

He then thanked me for the opportunity to hang out with Dawson. He may or may not have also slipped us a couple froyo vouchers.

It’s people like him that make those not-so-easy outings worth the trouble.

I know my child is loud (very loud) and has many things that differentiate him from most other children.

I know that people whisper and stare because they can’t understand what they don’t know. I like to think most people are good, but that maybe they’re scared to interact with him.

Some people feel sorry for him. Some feel sorry for me. Some think he is misbehaving. Some think he is ‘a little off’. It’s my ultimate goal to try and bridge that gap….

I purposely take Dawson everywhere with me. At first, he hated it. Honestly, so did I. But now, running errands has become one of our very favorite things to do together.

We no longer worry about his behaviors and sounds…and how they may affect other people.

I love his obnoxious squeals and wild hand flapping. I love his random giggles and voice box vibrations. I love his singing and beautiful smile.

I secretly love that he needs to sit on all elevated surfaces, and that toting around a tide container brings him such joy.

Dawson has many things that set him apart from the rest, and there is no doubt, that every single person who sees him, assumes he has ‘something going on with him.’

Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes its stressful. But, Dawson needs more exposure to the outside world….just as the rest of the world needs more exposure to autism.

The more we see, the more we learn, understand and most importantly…accept.

Written by, Chelsey Grendon

You can follow Chelsey and her family at Discovering Dawson and on Facebook.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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