Today’s post was going to be about the recent changes to “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Great Movie Ride,” but instead I’m going to take you across the lagoon and share a story – okay, “non-story” – from EPCOT (yeah, like you care about my thoughts on GMR anyway).
It was 8:45pm, and I was looking for something to eat in World Showcase that DIDN’T have a huge line (thanks, Food & Wine Fest) when I noticed a blonde-headed boy probably about twenty years old in the far corner of the tiny seating area at the Sommerfest counter (the banner outside simply reads “Snacks”) in the Germany pavilion rocking silently in his wheelchair punching himself in the head repeatedly (both common behaviors of Autism and, believe me, hitting yourself feels far better than when other people do it for you) while his exasperated caregiver sat there doing nothing.
Then he stops, reaches over for his caregiver’s arm for some reason (it didn’t appear to be violent or aggressive) and the older man deflected the boy’s hand and gave him a firm “no, don’t do that.” This is probably the ONLY way this boy has of getting attention without causing a scene, but he can’t communicate what he wants (which could be literally anything from a soda to having to use the bathroom) so it just comes off as random violence.
I’m trying very hard not to judge either of these guys – particularly since neither is in a good position. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether it would be better to be non-communitive rather than constantly misunderstood, but I feel like a horrible person just typing that.
I just wanted to go over there and say something to him. I just had no idea what or if he’d appreciate it (approaching a stranger with low-medium functioning Autism generally isn’t a good idea – particularly in unfamiliar or high-stress environments)… or if it would come off as “condescending?”
That’s when I realized I’d been standing there for nearly ten minutes without moving and decided to leave the obviously stagnant queue area. I stopped briefly to at least smile at the kindred spirit on the way out of the restaurant, but he didn’t see me…