Through His Puzzled Eyes - "We Are An Autistic Family" - 3
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
"We are an autistic family"
Upon learning of Jonathan's diagnosis, our mother Olga became a tireless advocate for his cause and had to
kick down more than a few doors to get him the services he needed.
She also instilled a sense of pride in us (older brothers Oliver and myself) towards out brother. When we were pre-teens, there were many situations in social and community settings that would make us embarassed or ashamed of Jonathan's inability to keep from being disruptive.
One of those experiences became a seminal moment for the two of us and truly shifted our attitudes towards dealing with our special needs brother and the world as a whole.
Our family had a standing Sunday reservation for dinner at Pizza Hut. (That placed dominated in the 90's!)
The whole family would sit at a table and wait for the piping hot pizzas to be served. Jonathan, however, had behavioral issues with waiting and sitting for extended periods of time. He wasn't concerned with any of the processess involved with the creation of the pizza... (cook time, dough, toppings).... he just knew that he wanted it once he sat down in the booth.
On this particular day, the pizza came out very hot and fresh and Jonathan was hungry and wanted some immediately. The pizza was too hot so Olga told him to wait and had to actually keep his hand back several times from grabbing at the pie. After about a minute Jonathan began having a loud tantrum, crying and pointing at the pizza. It was so disruptive that all the eyes in the place were on our table, Oliver and I were white-hot with embarrassment.
Instead of getting the pizza to go and avoiding this public spectacle, my mother chose to make it a teachable moment. She simply waited through all the tantrums and then made Jonathan wait until everyone had a slice of pizza before having one. In true ABA fashion, she needed Jonathan to calm down and correct his behavior before being rewarded with delicious pizza.
Before leaving Pizza Hut, Olga gave us a beautiful message that has resonated for many years.....
“Jonathan isn't autistic, we are an autistic family.”