Monday, September 26, 2011

Autism: The things some people say, Part IV

Grocery shopping for us has never been a boring event for us.  Heck, take this incident from a few years ago as an example.  Today we still have to do everything we can to minimize the chaos we can bring during any shopping trip.

One of the things we do, and that helps us immensely (and in turn helps you), is to put Nolan into the basket part of an extra shopping cart.  We've tried to let him help us push the cart, and grab things off the shelf.  But, that doesn't always turn out so well.  Note: We also refuse to make him stay home every time we shop.  Then it wouldn't be "we" anyhow; since a reliable PCA is nearly impossible to find, it would end up being "me" or "her".  And, while shopping alone can be quicker, its just one of those things we do together.  So, all 100 pounds of Nolan ends up in a shopping cart he shares with his sister, who still fits in the seat.

Understandably, you can imagine the looks we get from putting our child in the back of the cart.  The message on the handle of the shopping cart reminds us what we are doing is not suggested.  The loudspeaker is also good about scolding violators with regular chastisements.  Even as we turn the corner at the endcap between the pasta and bread aisles, I shudder in angst as I expect the girl stocking the milk to PIT maneuver our cart into the chocolate bars, strip off her apron, brandish a Shopping Cart Police badge, shove a price gun in my face and call for the Parking Lot Guy to back her up by surrounding us with a ring of carts he just rescued from the corrals.

Sadly, as they would be reading me my rights and calling the Department of Children and Families to save my children from their plight, the Point of Purchase Tactical Response Team (P.o.P.Ta.R.T) would miss the true criminals cruising the aisles right under their noses.  Those people?
Dog Owners. (I like dogs and most of their owners --- let me explain!)

You see, we recently had One of Those Days in our local Aisles-o-Plenty where we received repeated comments, glances and observations about hauling our autistic son through the store in the basket of the cart.  Ironically, one of these commentaries came from someone with a "baby" of their own in the shopping trolley.  Granted, their precious little one was in the child-safe portion of the carriage.  But, it was not a baby by the definition I would use.  Their "baby" was a furry, tailed little creature with a runny nose and a flea collar.

The last time I checked, it was suggested we not place our human child in the grocery section of the carriage.  But, clearly marked in the doors of the entrance to nearly every grocery outlet in America, it is a health code violation to carry your pet into the store.  I won't even get into my opinion regarding bringing a domesticated animal into an establishment where food is sold.  I won't debate between the terms "pet" and "companion".  And, based on the level of REM sleep this one was expreiencing, I doubt sincerely this was a dog who was on the clock.

The question I want to ask is, how does putting my autistic son in the basket of a shopping cart to make a better shopping experience for us and the other shoppers, warrant negative reaction (especially when, by doing this, there will be less chance you will have to interact with him than if he was not in the cart)?  However, the pet owner who carries an animal through the store in the shopping basket, clearly and obviously in violation of state health laws, gets told "what a cute baby" and doesn't see the contradiction when personally reminding us of our own transgression.

My one suggestion: don't be surprised if P.o.P.Ta.R.T is there when your "baby" makes an accident on the floor.  Unless, of course, they are busy frisking me for competitor's coupons.


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