A few weeks ago I wrote about an unpleasant experience that John and I had had years before at the hands of a very rude and ignorant woman.
Thankfully these situations rarely happen as awareness of autism is increasing.
More often than not people are wonderful and there have been many acts of kindness shown to John and our family from people we meet on our journey through life.
Most of these people are strangers, but have left their soulprints on my heart.
Because there are so many to chose from, here are just a couple:
When John was in Stanley Special School his class was taken to Waterworld on the Wirral to look at the fish and the small animals. They went on the minibus, he liked them then, and loved to pet the rabbits and feed his socks to the huge koi carp. Plus there are waterfalls and fountains for him to throw his shoes into. Such fun.
His classmates made a cute bunch, a couple of little ones in wheel chairs who loved punching echother in the arm and then almost falling out of their wheelchairs in glee. A gorgeous little fair haired boy with specially adapted walking sticks and the biggest bluest eyes and smiliest smile I have ever seen. He had attached bells to his walking sticks which meant he tinkled and smiled his way through life, this suited him as he had an almost ethereal beauty.
There was also a very pretty little girl who suffered with epilepsy, she wore a snazzy helmet to protect her head upon which John loved to tap; this would send her into fits of giggles, pardon the pun.
Then there was John and another boy who both had autism. John walked everywhere with his fingers in is ears to block out the sounds he couldn’t cope with and mooed loudly with pleasure like a new born calf. He now wears headphone to block out the sounds but has kept up his mooing to an impressive standard. The other boy was very vocal and would shout Yellow’ repeatedly when he became excited. Maybe thats why John started putting his fingers in his ears?
After a busy morning retrieving Johns shoes and socks and enjoying many ‘Yellow’ situations it was time for ice creams. The children were all very excited, John was mooing and taping out tunes on his girlfriends helmet while she fell about laughing. The Cafe was busy but no one minded this gaggle of children all behaving beautifully if a bit eccentric due to the diversity of their needs.
As the teachers were getting everybody seated an elderly gentleman came over, said he had seen the minibus with the schools name on it and would like to treat everyone to ice creams. He said his postman’s grandson was a pupil at Stanly school. His postman had told him how wonderful all the staff were and what a difference they had made to his grandsons life. With that he called a waitress over and told her to put anything and everything the children and staff wanted on his bill.
What a lovely thing for a complete stranger to do.
Later as the gentleman left, unbeknownst to him, his postman’s grandson could be heard mooing contentedly as he licked his ice cream.
Every year we take John to Abersoch and he loves it. When he was younger his favourite place was the beach. He loved splashing in the sea, sailing in his inflatable dingy, and flying his kites. Sometimes he did everything at once, reclining in the dingy and flying the kite while his grandad walked up and down, pulling the dingy and splashing in the water for hours. Grandads are a great idea to take away on holidays.
Much to John’s delight, at the entrance to the slipway onto the sands is a beach shop, a treasure trove for John of everything he loves. Spinning windmills, kites, sweets, ice creams, biscuits and cake.
One year John fell in love with a bright yellow swinging Walls Ice Cream sign, it was positioned right outside the shop. He refused to move and just sat pushing it to and fro. A lot of autistic people love things that swing or rotate, John is always hypnotised by this sort of thing.
He screamed blue murder every time we made him go back on to the beach, if we took our eyes off him for a second he would sneak off to play with ‘Swinging Wally’ his new yellow friend.
For the first two days we worked in shifts; one of us had to stay with Wally and John, while the rest soaked up the sun before swapping places.
The couple who owned the shop knew John from previous years and so by the third day, being fed up of sign swinging I asked them if it would be ok to take it onto the beach with us. I offered to pay. That way we could all enjoy the gorgeous weather and John had his playmate to keep him amused, inbetween trips in his inflatable dingy and flying his kite.
I kept my fingers tightly crossed. It worked , and the lady agreed, didn’t want paying, saying she was just pleased to help.
The rest of the holiday was fantastic. John was happy to join in all his usual activities knowing that Swinging Wally’ would be eagerly waiting for him back at our makeshift base camp, infront of the beach huts.
There were a few raised eyebrows when, paddling and splashing in the sea one of us shouted ‘OK John lets go and see Swinging Wally for a bit’
On our last day as John and Swinging Wally played happily together in the sun, the lady from the shop called at base camp and asked us to pop into the shop before we left the beach and headed home.
I walked into the village and bought some flowers as a thank you to her for being so kind and understanding. Such a little thing had made a huge difference to our week.
We all piled into the shop, John trying to get us to buy just one last windmill and kite to which we all said ‘NO WAY’ in unison. We already had double the amount of stuff we arrived with. ‘There is no room in the car John’ I explained to a very disappointed John, who decided to spin round and round on the spot until he fell over, just to underline his disgust at having such a mean family.
‘I hope there is enough room in your car for this’ said the lady holding a huge box out to John. Surely not…it couldn’t be….it was! John’s very own, brand new ‘Swinging Wally’
The lady had contacted the Walls Ice Cream rep, explained about John and asked for one especially for him.
We all stood in shock and surprise, what a lovely thing to do. I was in tears, John’s nana was in tears, his dad blinked rapidly and his grandad said ‘ Well bugger me!’ which in hind sight was a dangerous thing to say within ear shot of ‘Swinging Wally’.