Eventually, the Kiddo comes out of his appointment and I am distracted from this scene. Kiddo gets the slip on sneakers I purposely buy because we have long given up independent shoe tying as a goal. I chat with his therapist and we make our way out.
"Do the work. Get the pizza." says the Kiddo.
"Yep. You did a good job today. You earned pizza." and I drive him to the local pizza shop.
I prompt him to order. The gal behind the counter has come to know him and is wonderfully patient. She has even offered to buy him an Italian ice from time to time and wasn't surprised when I told her he wasn't a fan of it as his eating habits are a tad "quirky." She smiled and said "Yeah, my sister too." and with a head nod I knew she was on #TeamQuirky too. I've been a loyal customer there ever since. She's older than that young boy I just saw and here she is, every week, being so kind to us. It fills me with hope.
We turn around when we hear a girl's voice squeak up "Hi Kiddo!!!" It's a younger girl from my son's school. She seems very happy to see him and the Kiddo is hoping up and down flapping so I am guessing the feeling is mutual. We run into lots of kids who go to his school. They all know him. They all approach him to say "Hello". It's like they know he won't be the one to make the first social move and they are totally cool with being the one to do it. They are always so kind to him.
And that's what scares me. Will they always be that kind? That understanding? That patient, as they grow older. The middle school years are approaching at a lighting pace. Right now, he's in that tiny elementary school bubble. They all know him. When they all go over to the middle school, will they look out for him? Will they even say "Hi!" to him? Four schools go into one middle school. That's A LOT of new kids that haven't grown up with him. Will those students simply introduce him as "Kiddo" to all these new students around him? Will they be kind and pave that way for some new folks to see what an awesome kid he is?
This is where I hope all this autism awareness and acceptance is rubbing off on people and hopefully trickling down to their kids. I have hope and I see it in sparks all over the place. We just need to keep it up.