Several years ago, during one of our holiday trips, we went shopping at Downtown Disney. For those who aren’t familiar, Downtown Disney is an open mall, filled with shops and restaurants. The stores were crowded with vacationers and locals enjoying the holiday decorations.
As always, my son, Mike, was walking in front of me. I typically walk behind him. I guide him through crowds verbally and redirect him as needed. He tends to walks at an extremely fast pace; whenever I get ahead of him, he speeds up to pass me.
As we were walking through one of the stores, Mike spotted a young man standing in line to check out of the store. The man was in his twenties and had two prosthetic legs. His father was standing behind him and noticed Mike’s course correction in their direction.
Mike was on a mission and, in his excitement, picked up his pace. I immediately knew where he was heading and started chasing after him, calling his name – anything to slow him down. In my mind, I was hoping I could explain his autism before he invaded their space.
As I was rushing over, I locked eyes with the young man’s father, he smiled and mouthed, “It’s OK.” I immediately felt some relief – at least he understands.
As we approached, I began apologizing. I started explaining that Mike is attracted to uniqueness in individuals. Before I could get the words out, Mike hit the floor to examine this young man’s prosthetic legs. Did I mention we were standing in a crowded store? The young man and his father were extremely kind and understanding – assuring me it was all right.
As quickly as he hit the floor, Mike stood up. He looked the young man in the eyes and said this:
“High five, Robot Legs – awesome!”
The young man gave Mike the high five, looked at me, and said:
“Thank you – I needed that.”
This post originally appeared on Autism Hippie.