Public Perceptions

Autism PublicThe public often gets it wrong. Especially in the early years.  A meltdown is frequently misinterpreted as a spoiled child.  Yeah… we’ve all been there…  It can work against you.  Make your already difficult life more-so. 

I am here to tell you that occasionally misperceptions can work in your favor!

These were special-diet days.  Necessary at the time, but limiting in so many ways.  So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a restaurant that had soup to fit her needs.  Okay… it’s SOUP and she’s six.  Not as exciting as a Happy Meal, but it was a restaurant! 

Sure, it would take some preparation to get Kirsten on-board… and so we talked.  Me: “Kirsten, we are going to a restaurant, but all we are going to get is SOUP.  Just soup.  Okay?”  Her non-response was a good sign.  No meltdown.  And so I carried on.  “We will walk to the counter, order our soup, NOTHING ELSE, sit down and eat.  Got it?  It will be fun!”

Sound excessive?  Not at all!  These were the massive-meltdown days.  More on-than-off.  It was a limited phone… limited friend… TV-on-closed-captioning kind of life.  Not fun!    

Diet definitely wasn’t the only consideration. Avoiding meltdowns required… well, many things but… the less waiting the better.  Front-counter ordering (check!) and visiting during off-hour (check!) fit the bill.  We were off!

As we stepped inside the restaurant, I began my scan.  No line… quiet music… no offending odors… cookies displayed at the register…  Nooooo!  I began my intervention: “Kirsten, remember, we are ONLY getting soup.  Just soup.  We aren’t getting anything else.  Just soup.  Understand?”  Kirsten was not talking much at the time but she vibed me a “yes.”  I braved my way to the counter. 

What I didn’t know was the guy behind the counter DIDN’T.  Understand, that is.  Me: “We would like 2 chicken soups and water please.”  Young-Man-Order-Taker: “Can I get you anything else?  A soda?  Some dessert?  It’s no problem.  No charge!”  Um, what???  Mr.: “Really, no charge.  What else can I get you?”  I’m looking around for signs “Free Friday!” or “1000th customer eats free!”  Nothing…

At this point Kirsten is starting to get a little restless… and I am starting to get a little nervous.  I mumbled a “Thanks, but no thanks.  Just the soup, please.”  And walked away in a state of confusion. What was that about?!  

In that moment it dawned on me.  Mr. had overheard my “remember, just soup…” conversation and thought I was spending my last dollar!  It also dawned on me that I was currently wearing a much-beloved but definitely over-worn blouse (what are a few stains… holes… between friends?)    

See?  Not all misperceptions work against us.  Free soup… no meltdowns… if only all our outings went so well!  And yes – I parted with the blouse. :)

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5 Responses

  1. Cande Hadlock says:

    I love How sometime it DOES work for us. My son is a Happy guy and loves to run. One morning while “running” to the bus for summer school, a man yelled out his window – “That’s one happy kid going to school – Good Job Mom”.

  2. Xotchil Danio says:

    Yes, all my clothes look like that. And I dont have very many clothes. :-(

    • Autism Makes Me Laugh | Tammy says:

      Well, Xotchil – as soon as they start giving you free soup or their spare change at the street corner, it’s time to bite the bullet and do a little shopping! :)

  3. Tara says:

    God Bless you girl….been there myself with my daughter…only it usually involves restriction of how many movies she can buy…although if we eat anywhere besides McDonald’s…chicken nuggets and french fries take the trip with us…