I saw you.
I saw you hold your son's hand. He looked about 11 or 12. That was my first tip off. Most boys that age won't willingly hold their mom's hand in public.
I saw you view the hotel pool. Scanning it to view all the potential triggers. Searching for the best place to set up camp for your family. Closest to the exit plus closest to the pool.
I saw you prompt your son into the water or as close as he could manage at first. His hands over his ears. He managed to sit on the side with his feet in. I saw his eyes squinting tight but after a while, relaxing. His hands never really coming down off his head but relaxing, flapping from time to time.
I watched you, your husband and your daughter all get in the pool and stand around and in front of him. Forming a sensory shield. All smiling but I noticed you mom still scanning the scene. Ever watchful.
I gave you a big smile. I know my tribe. I wanted to swim over and fist bump ya or give you a high five. Of course, I had my own son to keep eyes on in the over crowded pool. Plus, I never figured out a good opening line when I spot another ASD family. "Flap here often?" isn't so smooth. I just hoped you saw my smile was just that, a smile. Not condescending or with pity. I just wanted to acknowledge you.
I saw you later, the next morning, at breakfast. You "opened the joint" like we do. I smiled and wished you all a good morning. I overheard your son ask quite anxiously "What time is it?" to which your husband replied quite wearily "It's vacation. It doesn't matter what time it is." I heard you sigh. You knew how it mattered but you also knew how your husband felt. Doing that dance of trying to keep the peace.
I hope you had a good vacation. Maybe it's not the type of vacation others would enjoy but for your family, it was great. I wish I could of told you it was nice to see one of our own. That just seeing you and your family made me feel less outnumbered by the "typical" families all around me. I wish we ran into each other more. Maybe we would of had a chance to throw our heads back and laugh at a joke only we would understand. Maybe some how you will see this blog and realize you weren't the only one at that resort with autism in your life. I hope you and I might find more of our own wherever we go. To keep us company. To help and support. To sound off and give advice.
Maybe even just share a side of fries. :-)
I think we need a universal opening line and I think "Flap here often?" Should be it!ReplyDelete
Anyone who understands autism wouldnt be offended by "flap here often" while our child is wildly flapping their hands would be such a relief!Delete
Oh I love this so much! Totally know the feeling.ReplyDelete
Happened to us recently just going out for water ice. Place was so crowded, but we spotted each other immediately and exchanged smiles. The other couple's son was older than ours and when our son had a mini-meltdown (place ran out of the treat he planned on getting) the other mom smiled and said "It gets better". I almost cried because I knew she was right and I wanted to hug her but I just said "thank you" because the boy wanted to get away from the crowd.
Its interesting how when we see one of our own we want to rush over and say "hi!" but we stand back because we don't know how to approach - and yes, I agree, "Flap here often?" is a good opener!ReplyDelete
When coming across a child having a meltdown in public, I sidle up and say "got one of those at home"Delete
Oh how I absolutely LOVE this!!! YES indeed! "Flap here often?" made me snort!ReplyDelete
your opening line wouid have been great!! LolReplyDelete
I like "Flap here often?". I never go up to other families because what if I'm wrong or what if they don't know it yet or what if they are in denial?ReplyDelete
I would have given you a big hug if you used that opener with me. I may have to try it next time!ReplyDelete
Love your article!!!! I actually felt like you were talking to me!!!, I loved how you refer the family surrounding our babies as the SENSORY SHIELD!!!ReplyDelete
This is great. I sometimes think of an old video of John Travolta (before his son passed away)... the family was in Paris. There was paparazzi everywhere... yet they held hands and let their young daughter lead through the crowd, with their son in the middle of them. They got him in the van and you could feel the relief. That's when I knew for sure they were an autism family, regardless of what they said publicly.ReplyDelete
Love this and "flap here often" is a great opening line. Feel free to use it on me anytime.ReplyDelete
I love "flap here often". This is a perfect opening line!!ReplyDelete
This article was so powerful it had me sitting still in front of the screen for quite some time before responding. So powerfully beautiful. I was a special education teacher for many years and had the pleasure of teaching several autistic children. They brought joy to my day and taught me more about life than anyone. I am currently researching the connection between autism and hypothyroidism for my blog Hypothyroid Mom. I just had to tell you what a wonderful article this is and what an impact it had on me. I believe deep inside me that autistic children have gifts that no one can imagine God given gifts.ReplyDelete
I have two on the spectrum. A boy and a girl. Seven and five. My son has Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I began blogging this year about our life with autism. Please come by :)Delete
I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that she saw you and knew that your smile was just a smile. I hope you had a good vacation, too. :-)ReplyDelete
Great message......some of us see and want to be able to help or just offer a word of encouragement but also have no opening line and fear we might offend. Some times that smile across the pool is just saying I recognize you and salute you. The smile says "I am glad you are here. Let me know if I can help in even the smallest of ways."ReplyDelete
I can spot my tribe also. Love this post. I remember someone from my tribe giving me comforting nod when Angel was on the brink of a meltdown. I was on edge. He did not know us but he understood and whispered, it is okay. I was so anxious. Tears came to my eyes because it was good to know that someone else understood.ReplyDelete
Love this post ! I'm reminded of "Autism Awareness Month", everyone has magnets on the cars and flags out, blue porch light, (I'm still sporting the porch light)I was happy like YEAH !! MY TEAM !! but then it's over, for them. I'm sure your smile said it all , you know WE can spot pity a mile away and that Mom knew you meant well!! This post is very powerful! Thanks Momma Fry ! PS- Flap here often ? on a t-shirt !! :)ReplyDelete
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My name is Chip
Got here via a Facebook post from my brother. This article reads as if it was written by someone observing him and his family. His son is 11. Well to my point, I just so happen to own a screen printing company. I can come up with a design with the slogan, or have members submit ideas until there is a common graphic everyone likes. I don't know what it would take to get it on the site or what the proper etiquette is to actually do this. I am willing to do whatever the rules allow to get one of these into anyone's hands that would like one. I have absolutely no desire to profit from this, just want to help in some small way. If there is an interest in having shirts made, I will be proud to do it. I can be reached at Chevyrcg@aol.com
Thanks for your time.
I'd wear one in a heart beat. I recently spotted a little boy that almost instantly my husband and I exchanged a look, both knowing they were like us. We started a conversation but the A word is always hard to blurt out, I'd love the icebreaker!! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you go through with this. I have a blog called "Wonderful Messy Days" if you'd like to check it out! Love the idea and its sweet of you to offer with such an open heart!Delete
It is a weird dynamic, for sure.ReplyDelete
Happy tears welling up in my eyes as I read this. Welcome to our crazy wonderful world everyone!ReplyDelete
"Flap here often?" PERFECT!ReplyDelete
I don't approach others based on my instant diagnosis (although I think I have a good eye) for many of the reasons mentioned above. However, if I notice they have an Autism charm or something I'll use that as a conversation opener and mention that I saw it and that my son is on the spectrum.ReplyDelete
My son is almost 11 and still holds my hand often. I love it!
Flap here often? This just made my day.ReplyDelete
I LOVED "Flap here often". On our last vacation, we were watching a family with kids our children's age on the same play equipment. Their little girl was probably seven, and she was sobbing and screeching, that peculiar scream that only those of us who have heard it before can know. I was mostly chasing my two because ... beach and ... play equipment ... and heat ... and other children .... and SUNSHINE SO BRIGHT IT MIGHT AS WELL BE BLARING MUSIC all equal sensory overload for mine. It was obvious that for whatever reason, the family was stuck here. They wanted to get that poor child somewhere quiet, cool, and dark, but it wasn't an option. We were behind a restaurant at the time. The play equipment belonged to a tiny mallish -- I won't try to explain Destin. If you haven't been there, it's impossible, and if you have, you go "Oh the boardwalk". Anyway, there wasn't a thing I could DO for these people, but I hated to stand by without acting. I finally worked up my nerve and touched the Mom's arm and said, "If it's sensory overload, my two like to sit under the tables. It's a little quieter and a little more dark." Now, these weren't the greatest tables for sitting under. They were designed with ants and seagulls in mind. But I think I connected with her for a second, so she'd at least know she wasn't the only parent out there with a kid on the spectrum. Because that ALONE feeling in the middle of a meltdown is the worst in the world.ReplyDelete
Great post. I recently had a similar experience while out of town. The other mother and I exchanged a look and a smile. Nothing more was needed. A thousand words and thoughts were expressed in that look, we both knew it. We felt it. We were encouraged. We both knew we had found our kind. We are not alone. And my day was that much better.ReplyDelete
Excellent!!! Nice timing!!1ReplyDelete
this is awesome I love it! as an adult on the spectrum i also wish i know what to say when i see other families. I worry i look to long or my smile seems wrong but for me it is nice to see other families too and know im not aloneReplyDelete
We recently moved to a medium-sized city, and I often see people that are clearly on the spectrum. But I'm always afraid of stepping on toes - my own aspie lack of tact & confidence - so I end up keeping my mouth shut. It would be great if there were some universal greeting we could use to acknowledge that we see each other and we're not alone! So I agree with everyone else: "Flap here often" should be an autism family's greeting. It would certainly break the ice when my boys are melting down in a store and half the shoppers stop to give dirty looks.ReplyDelete
My son with ASD is 23 now…we all have that instant "knowing," don't we? The post by "My Side of Typical" is perfect. Just perfect. I am exchanging a look, and I am smiling -- at all of you. With love,ReplyDelete
Awesome... and yes, that is how i feel... it's like radar... my kids are big 21,18 & 17... and when i see some one with a bittie, makes me want to walk over and say, it's a wilde ride, and it never stops but it really is worth it, and never fell you have to apologize for your child and your family... but of course i don't, I just smile my dorky smile...ReplyDelete
I agree with everyone and I expect to be approached by one of you all with a "flap here often" remark! ;)ReplyDelete
This post is amazing and really should be on Huffpost Parents. Really beautiful.ReplyDelete
I don't have an aspie kid but I follow you because I like what you have to say, and I feel I can learn from you about autism so that when I encounter people who have autism I don't act like an ignorant twat. <3
Love LOVE LOOOVE this idea. Anybody wants to ask me "flap here often" - you will make my day!!!!!ReplyDelete
I was not that mom, but I could have been. It's in public places like that when I feel so alone.... How I would have loved a fist bump or high five!ReplyDelete
So, I think we need to get t-shirts made with "flap here often?" printed on them!