Here's the story:
A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of the spring-time melt in Ottawa, Adam's sister Laura and her boyfriend Ryan took Adam out for a "fun" afternoon. Adam loves McDonald's, and on previous outings, starting off with lunch at McD's had worked out really well .... but not that day.
I have written previously about Adam's views on "babies" - a category that includes "little kids" (see blog post: ... of babies and monsters for more details). They are too short, too loud, too active and too unpredictable for Adam to feel comfortable and safe when they're around.
They get to McDonald's ... the moment Adam entered with his sister and her boyfriend, they all realized there was a problem. The restaurant was full of little kids. They were loud, they were active, they were everywhere. Laura and Ryan did what they could - helped Adam find a table that was less chaotic, tag-teamed at the counter to order the food - and Adam did what he could, distracting himself with his iPad. They managed McDonald's, but it cost all of them energy and sanity.
Adam entered the book store (next on the "fun" afternoon agenda) with few reserves left. What had been envisioned as a long relaxed browse through one of Adam's favourite stores instead became a "dash, grab, buy & leave" mission. Laura and Ryan understood this and were totally prepared to go with Adam's altered agenda.
And then they got to the cash ...
From the earliest days, when Adam was a small, non-verbal, incredibly complex, medically fragile boy, his family has always treated him with respect - seeing him as intelligent with his own view-point and perspective, following at times the faintest of clues to figure out what he needed and wanted, paying attention to his reactions to decide what was tolerable and what was not, giving him choices and power over the direction of his own life, apologizing if they accidentally took him over the edge. As a result, Adam has developed a cool confidence - confidence that he will be heard, that "his people" won't intentionally ask him to do things that are beyond his ability or desire to manage, and that they will understand and help him out when the world coughs up situations that are not reasonable.
Great story, great kid, great family.
P.S ... oh, and humour, the story is about humour .... finding comedy in the chaos .... the picture of "there are too many little kids at McDonald's" took over an hour to draw, with Adam periodically pausing, sitting back, reconsidering and adding more and more kids to the picture .... Adam's mom and I were laughing (so hard I had tears in my eyes) and Adam was looking at us sideways and smiling and drawing more kids .... then Adam's dad came in, saw the picture and burst out laughing too .... and when that picture was done, it was scanned and immediately sent out via e-mail for Laura and Ryan to enjoy ... humour is the other key tie that binds this family together ...
note: the concept of ASD individuals having a finite amount of energy to spend daily is well-put by Karla, an ASD adult who is an advocate and a mentor for others on the spectrum (click the link for more information on her "Token Theory"):
Karla's ASD Page - Token Theory