Plus, I am giving a talk to the teachers at Quinn’s school tomorrow (this?) morning about autism and education, so I’ve been busy trying to write something that makes me sound smart.
Shut the fuck up, jerks. I can too sound smart.
I mean, not in ^ THAT paragraph, but…
I do intend to tell you some stories about our very fun trip to California, but first I want to tell you this story about our trip to the mall today.
We bought sneakers and then went to have lunch in the food court. My kids were eating and I was trying to think of a way to get to the ice cream shop without passing either a GameStop or the miniature mall train, neither of which I wanted to spend money on. (Turns out it is impossible. All roads lead to GameStop.)
So, we were doing that, when Jack made this hooting/moaning/shouting noise that he makes sometimes. It’s not an uncommon noise and it’s not an unhappy noise coming from Jack, but it is one that most people probably don’t expect to hear in a food court.
I have heard this noise a lot, but it seemed to be escalating in frequency lately, so I stopped and asked him, “What does that noise mean? Does it mean you’re happy?” Pause. “Sad?” Pause. “That it’s too much?”
“Too much,” said Jack.
“What is too much?” I asked.
“The music,” he said, followed by a long pause. Then, “the talking.”
I stop and listen. To me, the food court is the exact definition of cacophony. It is loud, it is echoing, it is downright horrible, but to me it is hard to even distinguish individual noises. Until Jack mentioned the music, I hadn’t even noticed there was any playing.
I tell him I understand and then I think about the noise and how it isn’t a noise that most people tend to make. And I start to say to him, “Instead of making that noise, maybe we could have a code word for when you are too overwhelmed…”
And then I stopped.
Because I had just reread Quiet Hands that very morning. And it was fresh in my mind that not allowing free expression, even in unexpected (by NTs) ways is maybe more disabling than anything else I could do.
So I paused and then I asked, “Does it make you feel better to make that noise?”
And he said, “Yes.”
So I said, “Good,” and the subject was closed. Because who am I to say what noises he can and cannot make in a cacophonous food court? I’m not him. I don’t get to make those decisions.
If you’re dying for a sneak peek at our trip to California, you can start with this story about me trying to find a doctor for Jack when he got an earache on vacation. Turns out that technology (and antibiotics) saved the day!