A few weeks ago, our family went out to dinner. We all decided on Uno’s. AJ likes Uno’s, but it’s loud there, so it’s a difficult place for him to be. AJ was overwhelmed the minute we walked in, but wanted to stay.
He had a hard time picking something from the menu - he always gets the same thing, but he has to look through the whole menu each time. He picked what he always gets.
When the server comes, AJ won’t look at her, or place his order. We do it for him. He demands a drink, won’t say thank you or please, or speak politely. He’s having a hard time, and can’t deal. He’s speaking loudly, and people are staring. We are used to this, and are trying to get him to stay calm, and try to focus on us, and not the noise. It’s not working but we’re trying.
Eventually, he calms down, and eats his dinner. He’s speaking as quietly as possible to him (not very quietly - but it IS a family restaurant, so it’s kind of OK. People have been “ starin’ and glarin’ ” but, we’re used to that. We don’t like it, but we’re used to it.
A server comes over to the table behind us - not our server. She is talking to the family there about how cute their kids are. She says that she loves kids - but only the good ones. I don’t know if we were intended to hear that, or if it was just an innocent off the cuff comment. Either way, it didn’t feel good. I knew that, for that night, to lots of the people there, AJ was not among “the good ones”. I could see the way the customers and staff were looking our family.
Autism is an invisible disability. It affects his behavior, but the roots are not behavioral. Autism can not be punished out of him. Autism is not responsive to discipline. He’s trying his best. He has to try so hard, and things that seem easy to other kids are exceedingly difficult to him. The world is a very noisy, overwhelming place to him, and there’s a lot of stress. I wish people could understand how well he does, considering what an assault on his system the world is.
Trust me - he’s not only one of the “good ones”, he’s the best. If they knew what we know - they’d see that too.