• Kelly

Our Autism Story – Day 11 – “A Very Positive Reaction”

A friend asked us a year ago if we ever had a positive reaction when we were out in public. At the time, I honestly had to say “no”. We usually get stares, with the occasional unfavorable comment thrown our way. However, we had what might be the most positive, magical moment this past year…

Last winter, we decided to take a family field trip to the Pettit to go ice skating. We had taken Brahm before – prior trips usually consisted of me helping him around the oval once or twice and then he was done – no major issues, pretty pleasant. So, we laced up the kids’ skates and headed onto the ice.

Now, keep in mind, this is a quarter mile long oval. And, let’s be clear, Brahm can’t skate – I basically hold him up and push him around. We made it around 1/3 of the oval just fine. Then, without any warning, Brahm flopped to the ice and went into full meltdown mode – screaming and kicking (with the equivalent of knives on his feet). He had a massive, sudden sensory overload.

Immediately, I panicked. I could tell there was no way to pull Brahm out of this meltdown. We’re still had 2/3 of the way around the oval to get back to the on / off point. Brahm was kicking his skates into the ice and making massive divots – I knew we were going to get yelled at from the Pettit staff in moments.

And then, I saw a young man in a Pettit vest watching us (cue the added stress). After a few minutes, he skated over to us. Before he said anything, I apologized and told him we were trying to get our son off the ice. He skated about 20 feet away, but continued to watch us. I’m of course sweating bullets at this point knowing we’re going to get yelled at again. After another couple minutes, he skated back to us. I right away blurted out that Brahm has autism, is having a meltdown, and we’re trying our best to get him off the ice. The young man looked right at me and said “yeah, I used to get those really bad when I was younger, too.” In that moment, I knew, that he knew, exactly what we were going through. I realized he wasn’t hovering around us to yell at us, but rather to protect us from getting yelled at by any of the other Pettit staff. We had an ally. I can’t even describe what his one sentence meant to us. In a moment where we felt like the absolute worst people because we were again ruining everyone else’s experience, this young man made us feel like it was going to be okay.

Eventually, about 30 minutes later, it was okay. I pushed Brahm the remainder of the way around the oval. Nick and Brahm headed back to the car, and Helena and I got a few good laps in before we headed back to the car, too. We could have left feeling awful because of the meltdown, but because of this young man’s actions, we ended on a pretty good note!

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