Annie and I were shopping at the mall, looking for a birthday gift for Lulu. We wandered in to GameStop, and were greeted by an employee who asked if he could help us. We kind of shrugged and said something along the lines of, "we don't know what Lulu wants." I explained that my younger daughter is autistic and that we were shopping for a birthday gift for her tenth birthday. At that same time, a customer standing there suddenly blurted out that he was also autistic, and began talking to us, giving us advice on what to get for an autistic person. The employee smiled and walked away after seeing that we were comfortable with the customer.
The customer suggested a Nintendo handheld system with certain games that help with socialization and/or developing skills, and went into detail about how they can help people with autism. He then showed us the games and the different systems, and gave us the pros and cons of each system. He really knew his stuff!
After about 15 minutes, the employee returned to where we were standing and asked if we had any questions or if we had our questions answered by the other customer. I let him know that the other customer was fantastic and very knowledgeable.
At that time the customer let me know that he had applied for a job at GameStop and was just waiting to hear. I told him I would put in a good word for him. He then went on to let me know about his experience with the various agencies in my area, and how he had benefited from them, and that my Lulu might benefit as well.
I sincerely hope that GameStop hires this young man. He was able to talk to me about lulu's potential likes, dislikes, and social needs on a level that a neurotypical person simply could not. We need our society to embrace, empower, and employ people of all abilities.
I have always been very open about my daughter's diagnosis, and occasionally I have wondered if this was the right thing to do. My daughter isn't just autistic...she's smart, funny, and beautiful, and has an energy that is like no other. But autism is a big part of who she is, at least to me. It's led me on a journey to a whole new world. I have met some of the most fantastic people ever, and I've learned who my real friends are. I truly appreciate the little things.
Oh..just in case you're wondering, we did buy the gaming system that the customer had recommended.