Several years ago, during one of our holiday trips, we went shopping at Downtown Disney. For those who are not familiar, Downtown Disney is an open mall, filled with shops and restaurants. The stores were very crowded with vacationers and locals enjoying the holiday decorations.
Mike, as always, was walking in front of me. I typically walk behind Mike. I am able to guide him through crowds verbally and redirect him, as needed. Also, 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 20s and had two prosthetic legs. I can only assume that the young man was a war hero. 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 that 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 okay.” I immediately felt some relief – at least he understands.
As we approached, I began apologizing. I started explaining that Mike has autism and 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 that we were standing in a crowded store! I was HORRIFIED!! The young man and his father were extremely kind and understanding – assuring me that it was alright.
As quickly as he hit the floor, Mike stood up. He looked the young man in the eyes and said …
“HIGH FIVE, Robot Legs – AWESOME!”
The young man gave Mike the high five, looked at me, and said …
“thank you – I needed that.”