Becoming Like Water Part 2

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Becoming Like Water Part 2


Having realized that he would be hungry, the first thing I did was look for the closest news paper stand. Thankfully there he was, bag of M&M's in one hand, box of Orioles in the other and a cold soda to wash it down. The store owner was yelling at him and I rushed over and explained that Arnold is autistic, non-verbal and did not understand the concept of money or paying for anything. Whenever he feels hungry his instinct is to eat whatever was in front of him. The store owner did not seem to understand or believe what I was saying so I asked him to ring up the cost of everything he had eaten or opened. It came up to twenty dollars but even after I paid the bill, he kept yelling at Arnold who on first glance would seem like he was ignoring you on purpose. It was after an officer in full gear, rifle in hand came up and asked what was going on did I realize we had over half a dozen law enforcement officers, police dogs. I blurted out he's autistic and this officer seemed to immediately grasp what was going on. He then walked over to the store owner who was still yelling bloody murder. He went as far as to accuse Arnold of hitting him. This was not true, he has never even so much as pushed anyone. He was just hungry. The officer asked for my identification and asked me a couple more questions then let us leave. Luckily we made the next train. Let’s not do that again, I though as we pulled away from the platform...

On our way home the next day, we rushed past that same newspaper stand and it was closed. It was the same the rest of the week. While I like to imagine it was ordered by someone at the Port Authority, it could have been something else. Surprisingly, the store remained closed for the remainder of that week. It was unfortunate, but I didn't feel bad that it happened.

If you have someone close to you affected by autism, you're probably aware of some of the challenges it presents for everyone. Everyone's experience is different, the struggles are constant, the uncertainty limiting and scary. You do learn a lot about yourself and others. Arnold taught me patience - you need that a lot of that in great abundance. From his OCD, to teaching him basic sign language. A few times when we went to the local supermarket, he would dart off suddenly towards the bathroom, pants pulled half way down before he even gets there. First time it happened, I was horrified but you get used to it. Even though it took long to, we thankfully were able to modify that behavior.
The title,’ Becoming like water’, is taken from Bruce Lee’s philosophy. My interpretation of it is that we need to be fluid to the situations we're in. We may not fully understand them, or have control over them. But like water poured into a cup, we take on the shape of the cup. Pour that same water into a bowl, its shape becomes like the bowl. Bruce’s advice is to be the water. For parent’s of children that are on the Autistic spectrum, every day is a challenge and I can only imagine all the worries you have. My hope is that we find a way to reverse and cure this disease soon. Over the years with Arnold in my charge, he learned some sign language ( he’s always requesting batteries to play Bruce on his CD player) or more candy. He learned to dress himself, bath, brush his teeth, put dishes away. One big challenge was working his zipper, but I am so proud he can do that and so many other things!


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