Monday, July 20, 2020

A guy with autism walks up to us and...

Last night, we drove to an ice-cream place where you call in your order and they hand it to you at the door. I stayed in the car with Ben as Max and Dave walked over. When they returned, a guy ambled over from the outdoor seating at a nearby restaurant. Max had been saying how much he loves ice-cream.

"Does he have autism?" he asked. I instinctively knew that this man did.

"No, he doesn't, but you can ask him," I said. 

"Does he have special needs?" he persisted. 

"Yes," I acknowledged. "But you can talk with him!'

He wasn't wearing a mask and Dave said, "Please, can you stand a little farther away, we'd love to talk with you but we're social distancing."

And he said, "Yes, social distancing is good."

He wanted to know what school Max goes to. When Max told him, he said it was his old school. He asked a bunch of questions: What teacher did Max have? What year was Max born? What year was Max's brother born? Why were we in the area? 

When he asked where we lived Max said, "L.A.!" I explained that Max's dream is to move to L.A. but we actually lived a couple of towns over. His name was Ben, just like Max's little bro. He was 34 years old. I asked if he was eating with his parents at the restaurant and he said yes, and that they were very nice parents.

Before Max, I probably would humored this man, even as I felt a little wary. But I was genuinely glad to chat with him—he had a lively personality and seemed so interested in making a connection. I appreciated his conversation skills. I appreciated that Max was making conversation with him. 

We talked a bit more. He said he was sorry that Max couldn't talk so well. Max said, "It's OK!" WHICH WAS THE BEST, because I have forever told people not to feel sorry for Max but there was Max, letting it be known.

We said goodbye and then Dave helped Max eat his ice-cream. 

"Ben is very nice!" Max said, and I agreed. 

The ice-cream was delish, made even sweeter by an unexpected encounter. 


  1. Such a sweet story!

  2. Ellen....
    I can usually tell when somebody has autism too, {as well as cerebral palsy, or even intellectual disabilities}, without knowing them personally. :)
    I love that you are making new friends even during Social Distancing, and Sheltering In Place/Quarantine. That is awesome!! :-D
    Did you guys get your sweet treat last night because it was National Ice Cream Day?! :)
    Peace and Love, Mary Lou

  3. Cool that Max met an alum of his school!


Thanks for sharing!

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