Ignorance Ignoring Day
|Climb every mountain.|
Some kids on the spectrum avoid sensory input...ours needs a lot of it. He made his trip to CostCo bearable by touching every item in the store. For maximum efficiency, he runs his hand along the displays as he motors down the aisle. It's kind of like Tom Sawyer with a stick and a picket fence. And germs...lots of germs.
We were making our way through the frozen food aisle, looking for tasty, tasty salmon burgers and Ben was running his hand along the freezers.
In my fish-deprived state, I didn't notice that a fellow shopper was directly in the path of his sensory vacuum. She was entranced by some sort of mashed potato oriented frozen dinner. Ben didn't pause a bit. He ran his hand right across the back of her thighs, following all the contours.
Were I a lecherous dirty old man, (a) I would not have picked this woman (too much Hungry Man, bless her heart) and (b) I would not have imagined getting that personal. I'm saying he could have detected a transvestite, were that his purpose.
I apologized immediately, but there was no response. In fact, there was no reaction to anything. It was like a spontaneous game of freeze tag had sprung up. A minute later, we escaped around the corner and my last glimpse of her showed her to be still locked in place, staring at the Hungry Man offerings. AFAIK, she may still be there, switched off until a friendly player unfreezes her.
I've read lots of accounts of non-autism-accepting people letting loose on kids or parents. I was pretty much ready for that. I wasn't really prepared for this non-reaction, but okay, I'll take it.
I'm pretty sure that a better parent would have probably turned this into a teaching moment, and maybe some reaction from the shopper would have been better than none. On the other hand, Ben stayed happy and we managed to spend another 45 minutes in the store with no further incidents.
I know that we need to teach Ben to respect personal space. We'll work on that. Part of me likes to think that this lady felt the force of nature that is my son passing over her like a warm, questing breeze and her day was better for it.