Yesterday, I took the boys out for some mother-son bonding time. We went to lunch and Walmart. Not glamorous by any means but we got out of the house for a bit and purchased some awesome Star Wars accessories for their bathroom. #winning
I’m not a fancy dresser and can usually be seen in jeans and a tee-shirt. I may have makeup on, I may have yesterday’s makeup on. It depends on the day and the level of f–ks I’m willing to give. Yesterday, I threw on my “Keep Calm I’m an Autism Mom” shirt, with no intention other than to not be naked in public.
Wearing it, the strangest thing happened to me in Walmart.
You might be thinking “duh, it’s Walmart” but I’m not talking about normal Walmart shenanigans.
There we were on the toothbrush aisle, making the painstaking decision of which toothbrush to get when a man stops me and asks “Are you an autism mom?”
I had a momentary panic because I didn’t know how the hell he knew that, forgetting my attire choice for the day. I said I was and he said he was an autism dad. I said it was nice to meet him and “have a nice day.”
The littlest little was stimming something awful and I was trying to get him to stop. So we move on and all of a sudden I hear an “excuse me” and see this man walking towards me again. Not exactly sure what this dude wants from me, but I turn around and he asks “I just have to know, what is your stance on the correlation between autism and vaccines?”
Yeah. That happened.
Here we are, in the middle of Walmart on a Sunday and this stranger wants to talk vaccines with me. It is by far one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me. I gave my answer and he said he agreed with me and told me to have a nice day. I reciprocated and went on my merry way.
But wait! There’s more!
(You said that in a Billy Mays voice! Don’t lie!)
Fast forward about twenty minutes and I’m in the check out. For the first time in history there isn’t a huge line and I’m thinking there is only one reason for that.
Anyway, the cashier asks how I’m doing and also asks me if I’m an autism mom. I have had this shirt for over a year and never has anyone asked me about it, let alone twice in one day. I say yes and she asks me if the kids with me are mine. Well no, I just borrowed someone else’s kids to go to Walmart with! That was the answer I gave in my head but I smiled politely and said yes. She then said the absolute worst thing you can say to an autism parent….
“They don’t look autistic.” Ugh.
Listen, autistic kids are not branded. There are no telltale scars or facial abnormalities as there are with some other disabilities. They’re just kids that operate differently than the rest of us.
Again, this was the answer I gave in my head. At this point I was worn out from a) having been in Walmart and b) being with my kids in public for over two hours. My eye was seriously twitching. So I smiled politely and said “Autism doesn’t really have a look. It’s more of an attitude.”
She laughed and said I was funny than handed me my receipt. Yeah. I’m a f-ing riot. You should hear my stand up on ABA therapy and autism meltdowns. It’s a crowd pleaser!
And this my friends, is why I don’t go to Walmart. And maybe why I should invest in some new clothes.
On a side note, I don’t have a problem discussing autism. I’m very open about it and probably get a little more momma bear than I should sometimes. So the autism dad didn’t bother me exactly, it just caught me off guard. Another new experience for the books!