Last week, I was out having lunch with my thirty-eight year old son, Brandon. We were at a self-serve restaurant inside a market. We split up and I went to get the food and Brandon went to get the napkins and silverware. When I came back, I saw Brandon standing in front of the silverware dispenser. He kept pressing the red arrow that pointed to the handle that one would push to get out a utensil. As I walked towards him I saw him try to pull off the top of the machine and when he could not get the top off he moved to the machine right next to it and tried to pull the top off that one too.
I ran quickly as I could see he was getting anxious. He just wanted to get his utensils like everyone else and was unable to accomplish that task. I saw a cashier run over towards him and she began to yell, “What do you think you are doing?” I knew from a distance it did appear that he was deliberately trying to break these dispenser machines and could cause a health hazard, but of course that was not the case. I explained to the cashier what was happening and I showed Brandon how to use the machine. It took him a moment, because he was still focused and stuck on the arrow. I showed him once again and he got it. He appeared relieved.
I told him that happens to me too. I said sometimes when I am out traveling on business and I go to a new airport, especially if I am tired I too have trouble with vending machines and how to use them. I could see once I shared my story in a kind tone he was then able to let go of his frustration. When he understood I had issues with vending machines he then knew he was not the only one.
My son, Brandon lives alone and has done so for the past fourteen years. He has had to learn a lot on his own to be able to stay out there in the “real world”. But what I love most about my son is that he continues to learn and move on and he does not live in the past. He has no baggage from yesterday. He begins each day anew. Yes, my autistic son continues to teach me and my job is to be ready for the lesson.