A few days ago, my dad asked if he could write a guest post for my blog. I read it and was immediately overjoyed. The tears in his eyes showed me how special and important this was to him and I felt the same way. Before I share the guest post, here's a little background information. From January 26th to January 30th, my family and I went up to Big Bear Lake in California. We had such an amazig time there! This trip was certainly a better vacation that some in the past. I was able to try new foods, try skiing for the first time, and was able to have a great and memorable time with my family and dogs! There was one main issue, though. There was an incident that happened at the Grizzly Manor Café which dealt with my perception taking. Honestly, I'm still upset about the situation, unlike past blogs where I had more time to calm down. So without further ado, here's my dad's guest blog post!
I’m honored to provide a guest blog this week to The Journey Through Autism. As Ethan’s dad, I get a front row seat to his trials and tribulations as he navigates through the world of social situations. There’s always an event or two for learning that comes up and this weekend was no different.
Ethan finished the first semester of his sophomore year on Friday and had the weekend as well as Monday and Tuesday off from school. With a four-day weekend available, Shelly and I loaded the van with Ethan, Peyton and our two dogs for a 2-½ hour drive up to Big Bear Lake where we had rented a cozy cabin. Ethan talks more about his Challenges with Vacations in his July 2, 2017 blog. We were hoping for a little more snow for the dogs to play in but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Good news is that we didn’t have to use the tire chains that Ethan and I practiced putting on (but that would be a whole other blog.)
Ethan has always been a very fussy eater (Autism and Picky Eating, August 13, 2017) and as such, Shelly spends a good deal of time choosing restaurants where Ethan will be able to find something that works for him as well as the rest of us. The Grizzly Manor Café made our list as it had great reviews but also very long wait times on weekends. We chose to go for lunch on Monday and were rewarded with a rare table as soon as we got there.
The pancakes were literally larger than the plate and Ethan, with his eyes bigger than his stomach, chose to get the Hog Boy (2 huge pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc.) The waiter, who was also the cook, suggested that he get the Sissy Boy, which was the same as above but with only one huge pancake. Ethan agreed.
Now we have to talk here about the staff at the Grizzly manor. Their shtick is to provide “service with an attitude” a la Ed Debevic’s. It’s all in fun and not meant to be insulting. However, Ethan, as well as many people on the spectrum, has a very difficult time differentiating between someone actually insulting him and someone just playing around as they were doing at the restaurant. When the server brought out his plate she said, “Here you are Sissy Boy.” I could tell Ethan was fuming inside but he held it together until she served the rest of us and left. Then he lost it.
As much as Shelly and I tried, we could not get Ethan to understand that the server, cook and other staff were just playing with us. He insisted and truly felt that she had called him a sissy. He ate as much as he could but still had plenty left on his plate. Did I mention that the portions were ginormous! And that’s when the insults really started pouring in. One waiter looks over and says, “Oh look. Sissy boy couldn’t finish his food.” The cook yells out that anyone who doesn’t finish their food gets to stay and clean dishes. Shelly and I were chuckling along while trying to explain that this is all part of the fun here. Ethan was having none of it. He was furious! As a waiter put a hand on his shoulder, Ethan almost violently pushed it off. Ethan started to get up and I was sincerely afraid for the first time in my life that he was going to use his karate training for the wrong reason. He glared at the waiter with fierce eyes and told him that he was insulted. He then told us that he needed to leave and walked out the door to our car.
I took a sigh of relief. We have worked for many years on calming strategies for Ethan and one that seems to work well is when he gives himself a time out to settle down. We explained to the waiter a little about Ethan and the waiter immediately apologized. He said that neither he nor anyone there would ever actually insult someone and we could tell he really felt bad. Shelly assured him it wasn’t his fault.
On the drive back to the cabin we tried again to explain to Ethan the difference between what he perceived and what the actual situation was. He wasn’t ready to hear this yet and held the grudge throughout the rest of the trip. We’ll continue to work on this at a better time. We went to dinner later that night at another restaurant and Ethan thought he saw the waiter from earlier that day eating there as well. We told him that no, that wasn’t him (although it actually was!) We weren’t ready to tackle the issues from earlier that day again so soon.J
ANNOUNCEMENT: This upcoming March 24 is the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR) Race For Autism. NFAR has helped me through my journey by giving grants to my school’s so that I can have the educational support services that I need. I have raced in this 5k for six years now. For all that NFAR has done for me, I want to give back. So, I created a campaign page. If you can, PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK to donate your TAX DEDUCTABLE donation for my team. 100% goes to NFAR and the Autism community benefited from it. Once again, thank you for your love, support, and generosity.