An encounter to remember

Tulika Prasad

When God created this world, he sent in a few angels who would touch people’s lives with their kindness. They would come into our lives and restore our lost faith, our strength, our hope, and our happiness. When others stare or ignore, they would reach out and hold our hand; when others stand and judge, they gently whisper– “I understand.” I am lucky to have met one of those kind souls.

Those with a child on the Autism Spectrum know how quickly a seemingly innocuous event — a walk in the park, a trip to the store, a day at a fair, a birthday party– can escalate into an humongous out-of-hand incident. What we term as tantrums, meltdowns, or behavior are just external manifestation of their helplessness…their inability to communicate, the sensory overload playing havoc on their mind and tons of other factors that we might not even know.

It was one of those days for my son and one of those days for me when you just feel so defeated that you don’t even want to try. We had moved to a new neighborhood and after a lot of searching found a speech therapist. On the first visit, she politely asked us to find another therapist because Vedant was a handful for her. His special needs school that he was attending had been asking me to find him a new school because he was too low functioning for them. Vedant was having a rough phase, I knew something was bothering him but I was unable to do anything except watch helplessly. His distress often ended up in him grabbing my hair out of all the pent up frustration. It was one of those difficult times when nothing seemed to go right.

However, I had a household to run and so had to go grocery shopping. While I was waiting for my turn at the register, Vedant suddenly started crying and grabbed my hair. He has a death grip when he wants ( I must be feeding him something right ) and so as he grabbed my hair and pulled it in all direction, and I withered in pain but was unable to peel his hands off of me. I could feel all eyes on us, except one — the lady in front of me at the register. She turned around, looked at me with the gentlest of eyes and asked if I wanted her to help me get stuff off of my cart for checkout. I nodded my head, still trying free myself of my son who himself was screaming while he held onto my hair.

When Vedant felt better and freed me of his grip, and I regained some semblance of composure to hold my head up and look at the cashier in the eye, I went ahead to pay and the cashier said the lady who emptied my cart had already paid for me. It was then I noticed that she was waiting for me with my cart while she had another store associate push her cart. I went to thank her and pay her back but she adamantly refused. By now, Vedant had settled down too and my head with a disheveled mop of hair could think straight again.

She asked if she could walk with me to my car. I gladly agreed. She said “my son has Autism too. I understand.” I forced a smile of acknowledgment and walked along. We walked to my car in silence. She said nothing but I could feel the warmth that radiated from her. It touched my heart. She did not try to do anything over-the-top to make me feel obligated — talk too much, sympathize or pity too much, preach or try to be condescending about the whole situation. She was there by my side, like a strong support. I couldn’t have asked for anything more at that moment. I just wanted someone to shield me from everyone else and she seemed god-sent at that moment. There was healing in that silence.

When we reached my car, she nicely stacked everything in my trunk while I buckled up my son in his seat. I went back again to thank her. She gave me a hug — the warmest and the most honest hug I have ever had — and said “God loves you.” Then she quietly walked away.

I did not ask for her name or her number or notice where her car was parked. I was too overwhelmed. I watched her walk off and then I went into my car and cried. I have no idea what those tears were for. Were they tears of exhaustion, of defeat, of fear of failure, of embarrassment or were they tears of joy, of gratitude and of thankfulness…I’m not sure. All I know was that crying felt good.

Since that day there have been several occasions that Vedant has had a rough moment in a mall or a park or another grocery store. But I no more have felt as overwhelmed as I did that day. Not embarrassed either. I don’t know how that incident affected me but it changed me to believe that I have a kind soul watching over me and it will come to my rescue when I really need it.

Until then, the battle is mine to fight.

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9th World Rett Syndrome Congress
Surfers Paradise, QLD - Australia
Sep-30-2020 - 09:00 am
The Rett Syndrome Association of Australia (RSAA)email rettaust@bigpond.comwishes to draw attention to the fact that it is staging the 9th World Rett Syndrome Congress i ..
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