Treasured Moments at Panera

I wouldn't typically consider tonights behavior something to be treasured, but tonight wasn't all that typical, either.

We had dinner at Panera, at the request of Sage (10 years old, autism/ADHD). This morning he said he wanted to celebrate with a "last chance to go out to eat in August!"  The request was so cute,  we decided to honor it even though it meant "chancing" it with his brother.

Stevie (autism/ADHD/anxiety/food allergies/tourettes-like tics) has had some very unpredictable behavior lately (you can read about that in the previous posts) so we were prepared to leave quickly if needed-- and sure enough, it was needed.

We all sat down at the table with our food and Daddy went to get coffee. This is where it all started to fall apart.

Stevie got that look in his eyes, as he climbed into the chair across from me, pulled himself up to standing and looked around, in awe. Absolute awe.

People started to notice. I heard some giggles... and then he started to do a little jig. A dance--with his hips...and then arms... and then...

"Waah Haaaa-HAAAA!" the loud, fake baby cry from the Dr.Suess's ABC's video game erupted from deep within his soul.

Not an ear was untouched.

Not even the ears of the elderly couples sprinkled about the place.

The college kids diagonal from us started to giggle and cover their mouths in disbelieve at what they saw.  I looked over at them, my face brightening in pink by the second (matching Hopes red face which was getting lower and lower toward the table, and Sages proud-of-his-brother-being-bad face sticking up higher and higher from the table).

She quickly turned back toward her friends at their table. I wanted to tell her it's ok. I mean, really?  What on earth could one do at this point but laugh?

The absurdity was, well, absurd! WHO DOES THAT?

I am still laughing!

I loved seeing the laughter it brought everyone in the restaurant that I could see, and I particularly loved that I was unaware (too much in shock to notice, maybe?) of anyone irritated by him at all. I was also very thankful that I had worn a "Ride for Autism" shirt!

The moments I most treasured, though, was that we ran into 3 people we knew that we hadn't seen in YEARS!  And they just weren't the least bit phased by what they saw. They didn't have harsh words or reprimands, they didn't mention what they heard and saw, they were just glad to see us--warts and all.

And we were glad to see them.

And I was glad to see all the giggling faces as we left.

Now, there's some autism awareness up close and personal!


Feeling that we got a bit "lucky" tonight (read: didn't get kicked out), I started thinking up what we can do to help Stevie understand the situation and why it's important to behave in public places as well as in the car (in which he continued being out-of-control and unsafe--unbuckling his seat belt and standing on top of his car seat) I had a little brain-storm of sorts...

I decided to use a very annoying obsession of his: Teletubbies.  Maybe, just maybe, he will listen to them if they tell him a social story:

Maybe he'll listen to the Teletubbies?
Maybe he'll listen to the Teletubbies?

And maybe, just maybe, if the Teletubbies keep telling him off, he will get mad at them and move on to something else!!!

A friend loves at all times.  Proverbs 17:17