The Woman in the I-Hop Parking Lot

My son Colt is 6 years old with severe non-verbal autism. He is the youngest of 3 boys.

It is not easy for all of us to go out together as a family.

Going to the movies with Colt is just out of the question. He would rock in his seat and vocalize loudly (if he even stayed in his seat).

Bowling? No way, I can just imagine chasing him through the lanes while dodging bowling balls.

Going anywhere that is crowded and loud is a huge gamble and takes planning and I almost always need my husband or another adult to help me with him. The one thing that we can do as a family now that has become a little easier over the years is go to a restaurant.

Colt does surprisingly well at restaurants. We have had some hiccups but for the most part it is a positive experience.

Recently, we made plans to go out to breakfast on a Saturday morning as a family, all 5 of us. We decided to go to I-Hop.

We parked the car and started walking into the restaurant. My husband walked in ahead of us and immediately saw that the waiting area was full of people and we knew it was going to be a long wait.

That is something that does not work out well with Colt. We need to be able to go to a table or booth right away or he might get restless or confused as to why we have to wait and that triggers behaviors and meltdowns.

So, we decided we needed to try a different restaurant but it was too late for Colt.

He has a difficult time with transitions and changes in plans. Even though Colt is non-verbal, he understands most of what he is told. He was told we are going to eat at I-Hop.

When he climbed down from his seat and got out of the car, I pointed to the I-Hop and said, “See, we are going to eat in there.”

So, when we abruptly turned around and started heading back to the car, he immediately started yanking away from me and resisted walking back to the car.

I yelled for my husband and he also took an arm and we started leading him away. We almost got him to the car when he made a last-ditch effort to sprint back towards the restaurant and my husband barely managed to pull him back.

At this point, Colt was ANGRY and he was crying and screaming in the middle of the I-Hop parking lot and I was wondering how we were going to get him into the car.

At the same time, a couple of people were walking towards their car which was parked right next to ours. I noticed one of the women stop and look at Colt and she commented that he seemed unhappy.

I just sheepishly smiled at her and sort of tensed up waiting for the comments.

I have had people just stop and stare as Colt has a meltdown or runs away from me.

I have been in situations where I felt helpless and not a single adult around me has offered help.

I have heard people making comments under their breath.

So, I was waiting for the same kind of thing to happen and I was ready to spit out, “He has autism, he is having a hard time right now.” I usually feel compelled to tell people that and attempt to explain his behavior but it can be awkward.

I didn’t have to do any of that. This nice lady reached into her purse and pulled out a packet of fruit snacks (sealed and unopened of course).

She asked me if it would be OK for Colt to have them.

She said she was a Grandmother and always has treats in her purse for her grand kids. I told her yes and thanked her for her kindness.

Colt LOVES fruit snacks. Fruit snacks are commonly used in school by his special educators as a reinforcer for him.

So, when he saw them and when I told him that he could have the fruit snacks if he got in his seat, he immediately calmed down, stopped fighting and climbed up into his seat.

This may seem like such a small thing but for me it was everything.

I almost cried right in that I-Hop parking lot.

I almost hugged this stranger. This sweet, beautiful kind soul made no judgements and she didn’t just stare at us.

She came up with a solution and helped me. And she did it so easily and effortlessly.

In my 6 years as an Autism Mom, this was a rare moment. But it was one of those moments that gave me hope.

I could have a million more negative interactions with strangers but I will always remember the kind woman in the I-Hop parking lot.

Written by, Jessica Casey

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

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.

0 comments
34 likes
Prev post: Autism and Puberty: Our Own Perfect StormNext post: What I See when I Look at You

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me
About Me

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!

READ MORE

FindingCoopersVoice
Follow my YouTube Channel
Follow my YouTube Channel

When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
WATCH NOW

Most Popular
Sign up for Finding Cooper's Voice
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!