I like to take my son, Madison, out to see and do things. He is eighteen and has severe autism, so he doesn’t talk or respond and his behavior is not always predictable. I never know what my strike his interest: will it be someone picking a banjo, or a waterfall? Watching him watch a boat on the water, or see the ocean will make you laugh.
Yet there are risks when I take him out. I used to take him to the mall to walk, and that would be great this summer with the heat. We had our circle that he liked and we would climb the stairs. Last time I took him was a couple of years ago because when we got to the second floor, he loves escalator, his Ipad went flying. It could easily hit somebody below us. The vendors below went and got it and held it for us until we got down, but what could have happened?
Another time we were walking in the quaint little town of Landrum and I was taking him to the car. He bolted and went into a funeral home. He had to look in all the rooms, thankfully just the front rooms and there was no service going on. But again, what if? And what if an officer saw me trying to restrain him from going inside. It did look suspicious. Or if he had told Madison to stop.
When Madison was small, going out in public was a lot different. I could pick him up or physically restrain him. People would see him do something abnormal like spin, bite his
finger and stomp, or flap his arms and they would think, “Ah, isn’t that cute?”
But now he’s eighteen going on nineteen and they can think, “What is that grown man doing? Is he crazy? Is he going to hurt me or my child?”
I am sure that most if not all of you have seen the video on the news of the caregiver with the man with autism, lying on the ground and being stopped by police. Click here for video.
And I can’t always say it will be okay, because I don’t know what he’s thinking.
I can easily see us in a store and a security guard or officer ordering Madison to stop or come here or ask him what he is doing. Will they understand me interfering? Will I be a threat? Will it scare Madison and then they think he is a threat?
We went to the new members dinner at our new church. It was in a gym-like area with just a few tables. when we got done, Madison laid down next to the wall and started kicking his legs. Having just a great time. He’s done that at home, but not while we were out. Remember, he’s eighteen and his daddy’s size. I sat down with him and talked and hoped everyone saw it as play. But what if that happened in a store? At Christmas?
A security guard or police officer can’t just stand there and do nothing, because we’ve seen on TV that there are threats out there. And they look just like us. Hopefully they will see how to be understanding and release some of Madison’s tension. But that isn’t always obvious, or what they’re trained to do.
That is why I pray, not hope, that they will have understanding, and that God will look after us.
Because we all need each others’ prayers. And, thankfully, God hasn’t left the building.