I met an autistic boy today.
He was one of the helpers at the craft store I went to this afternoon. A cozy family business, that craft store was. I was really glad that the family business somehow allowed him to be part of the crew so that he gets to mingle with and meet new people.
The expression on his face when I approached him for help in the store was … hard to describe.
A mixture of joy and confusion perhaps. Joy towards how I approached him and spoke to him like a normal person, but confusion because he had no idea how to help me. His face was initially all aglow, before it was shrouded in bewilderment and he finally, gestured towards another lady to assist me.
Later on, he had taken to following me around the store.
I was looking for ribbons, and he lingered around in the nearby vicinity as I pored through the shelves and shelves of ribbon reels. It was clear that he could communicate, just that he didn’t know how. Occasionally, I’d pick up a roll of ribbon and go “hmm,” “too narrow”, “too wide” or “too expensive”, and I can hear all sorts of murmuring and squeaking noises coming from his general direction.
It was like we were having a conversation, only with both parties speaking in different languages … but still understood each other.
There was one point where I jokingly lamented about how the ribbons here were sold in reels and not per metre and he giggled along with me.
Later on, I reached for a tri-coloured (red, blue and white) ribbon reel and the murmurs and squeaks from the boy became louder. I looked up at him, and he pointed to the ribbon reel and gestured to his neck in a roundabout motion in response.
“Ah, this one is for medals!” says I.
And the boy began nodding wildly, squeaking and murmuring his approval.
The boy shadowed me around the store until I was ready to checkout. At that time, I stood patiently by the counter, waiting for one of the ladies in charge to finish whatever she was doing so that she could ring up my purchases.
The boy didn’t let me wait, though. He gestured/squeaked/murmured loudly for the attention of another storekeeper to come assist me and I was all ready to go in a matter of a couple of minutes.
I could have sworn that he said “bye” when I left the shop.