In the few months that I’ve worked at Chik-Fil-A I’ve met a ton of different types of people, most of which I’ve encountered at the coffee shop and some that are brand new types of customers and coworkers. Although I’m excited for every customer that comes in, and especially excited when deaf customers come in, I’m even more excited when a nonverbal kid comes in.
He comes in with a woman, which I’m unsure of how she’s related to him but I know it’s in some way, and only on Monday we started to have a conversation. At first the conversation was about work, and then about school because I found it strange that a kid his age wasn’t at school. Then again, I thought, maybe he’s homeschooled or school hasn’t started. It isn’t too strange for some schools to start a lot later. She then asked about my school history and it went from there all the way to Autism, specifically Aspergers. That’s when I learned this kid, who suddenly seemed to forget he used to have an ice cream in his hand, observing his surroundings, has Autism and is extremely nonverbal. This made me excited because I’ve only met verbal, very high functioning people on the Autism Spectrum, usually they are at first diagnosed with Asperger’s. He’s the first nonverbal kid I’ve met and I could quickly tell he’s a very bright kid by his observing his surroundings, which is something I often do in class.
I saw him yesterday too and I spoke directly to him. Very briefly he makes eye contact. I can see just the hint of a smile when he stops observing his surroundings. He speaks to me but down at his cup, very softly like he’s whispering and only after the woman with him softly gives him a script that he can repeat and often in simple words. When I gave him a thumbs up it was the biggest smile I think he’s ever given a stranger.
With all of these things, and knowing what I know, I hope that nobody looks at him and get frustrated easily. I hope that his future, no matter how frustrated, makes him feel rewarded when he’s old. I hope that he doesn’t change in personality either. More importantly, I hope he never feels trapped in his own mind. I hope that he can find that outlet that helps him communicate his feelings whether it’s art, writing, or whatever.
I guess I’m excite because I’m meeting someone like me, with a few different symptoms, he’s like me in a way and that’s not a feeling I get to experience a whole lot. I lived my entire childhood both loving and hating how different I was because I couldn’t tell anyone why I did or didn’t do certain things. People love easy answers and all I could do is give them answers they couldn’t understand. Now, I’ve met a few people who understand exactly what I’m going through. Now, I’ve met people who understand what my parents had to go through to raise me. And it’s exciting to share experiences with people who can honestly say “I know exactly what you mean.”
“Don’t worry, you’re just as sane as I am.” -Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.