December 23, 2011
By Felecia Rozansky
I remember waiting at the grocery store checkout one afternoon and feeling annoyed that the line seemed to be moving very slowly. I looked two customers ahead of me and saw the cashier seemed to be a bit distracted as she was pushing the bananas and paper towels along the conveyor belt.
Then it occurred to me: I really had no idea what this cashier’s life was really like. What kind of home did she go home to? This was the time in my life when my son Eric was still very young, and he had just began early intervention services. My life at home was very difficult. I had my older son, Daniel, who had just turned 4 and was doing all the adventurous and exhausting things that typical 4 year olds do, and I had Eric, who was 2 and a half and doing nothing his peers were doing. Eric just screamed and sat with his dinosaur toys and looked at them all day long, except when the therapists and teachers came to our house…and then Eric screamed for 45 minutes.
On that day I stood in line at the grocery store, I remember realizing that the cashier might be like me. She might be relieved to be away from her home, or maybe she was thinking about what was waiting for her when she returned. Just like I knew what was waiting for me…chaos, loneliness and fear that things might never get better. And this was when I realized I needed to reach out to others. I’m not sure what I really expected to happen, but I knew it was better than being silent.
And now, many years later(about 13), I stand on the other side of the counter in my cookie shop (that’s right…it’s a little bakery shop that specializes in specialty gourmet cookies….all my old homemade stuff). I am proud of my little shop.As I am constantly working for change, I have pledged that a portion of my profits will be donated to the Autism Society. And this little notice on the bottom of my brochure has opened up a whole new world of people into my life.
Sometimes I will mention that a portion of my profits go to the Autism Society. Most people will just give that sympathetic nod and say, “gee that’s great.” I have learned to ignore the sympathy, I don’t really need it. But sometimes the person I am speaking with will stop, lean on the counter and tell me that they too have a relationship witha person with autism. Then the walls come down. And we talk. We’re both curious to know, “how old is the person? Where do they go to school?” And the hardest question, “How’s it going?” This is the moment of truth, and we both tell it. “Okay,” “not so great,”“good days,” “bad days,” “new meds,” “great school,” “horrible teacher,” “no friends”…and the bond is set. Neither one of us is alone, and now we’re reminded, “but I love him, love her” and we keep going. You never know who is standing on the other side of the counter…but I’m beginning to learn.
Felecia is a guest blogger for the Autism Society. Learn more by reading her story!
Topics:Living with Autism
Please login or register before you comment. Click here to login or register.