A #ThrowbackThursday moment…from four years ago. In honor of acknowledging, accepting and understanding autism.
I just finished perusing CNN.com and read an article that struck a cord with me. It was about the waitress at Chili’s, the autistic girl and the “broken” cheeseburger.
For those who didn’t read the article, you can see it here:
The reason why it struck a cord with me is that I know what it’s like to go out to eat (or go anywhere for that matter) with an autistic person. I’ve known what it’s like for the past 28 years. My sister Peggy is autistic. When I read about how this little autistic girl got upset over her burger being cut in two (to her it was “broken”–so cute!), I shook my head knowingly. Although I doubt Peggy would have an issue with her burger being “broken”, she probably would pick the burger apart, eating only the burger, or maybe the cheese too, leaving any pickle behind, along with the bun. And there can’t be any condiments on the burger. A meal at Subway is a cold cut sandwich without the bread. And two bags of chips and a soda. Of course we can’t just ask them for a bunch of meat and cheese. So she picks apart the sub and someone else eats the bread. Big deal. But this is what it’s like dining with an autistic person in tow. You deal with it.
As for the ignorant ones commenting after the article, I have a few choice statements for them. First of all, although autism is usually associated with young children, those children do grow up to become autistic adults. Like my sister Peggy. Autism has been around for longer than we know. The only difference is that autism didn’t have the attention it does now, children were labeled as “retarded” and tossed into institutions. Thank goodness we have learned so much and realize those affected with autism, in any form, can lead productive lives.
For many with autism it’s the simple things in life that make them happy. For my sister it’s clocks. She collects clocks. Mainly these fancy neon blue clocks that Walmart sells for $20.00. If we ever need a clock we know where to go. But none of her clocks actually run. She requires no batteries for her clocks. All the clocks need to say is 3:55 or 11:15 (we have to set one hand on the 11; the other has to be on the 3) and she is happy. We know it’s always 3:55 or 11:15 somewhere!
Some other simple things that make Peggy’s life complete: the numbers 4, 3 and 8. She used to really be into the number 11 also but has gotten away from that one for some reason. Basketballs and soccer balls, sometimes other kinds of balls. Mainly basketballs. And sunglasses. She really used to love calculators but has gotten away from them as well.
My sister will never drive a car or hold down a job. She will never marry or have children. But she’s the happiest person I know.
We could all learn a lot from autistic people. They don’t need cell phones, Ipads, tablets or any other fancy technical thingy to make them happy. They don’t need expensive gas guzzling cars and exotic trips to lands unknown to fulfill their lives. Simple really is better. If we all chose to live more simpler, less chaotic lives, the world would be a better place. All you really need in life to be happy is a good clock and a yummy cheeseburger.