It was sunny and warm when we left home but as we approached our favorite fall tradition of travelling up the hill for a day of pumpkins, apples and crafts the temperature did drop a bit. I had told Mateo to wear pants, but the struggle in just getting him out of flip-flops and into tennis shoes was hard enough. I figured it would be warm there, but when the wind picked up it was quite chilly. I was worried that our fun-filled day planned ahead may be more challenging than I anticipated.
We arrived around noon and it was busy, but not as bad as years past. We decided to stop at the place with the train for lunch and to buy some apples. Mateo was so excited to be there and although he was chilly, he hardly complained. I felt like I had a terrible dumb Mom moment for not even grabbing him a jacket. The change of seasons has always been challenging for him. The routine of shorts and a short-sleeved short with flip flops is his go to outfit. Then the seasons change and the transformation into long-sleeved shirts and jeans is a difficult one for him. The same thing occurs when Summer comes around when switching to shorts from pants is never easy.
So we powered through and kept going. Mateo asked if we could go to the Pumpkin Patch next and the wind was dying down so it was a good time to make our way over there. Since it was the week before Halloween, as expected many of the pumpkins were picked through. But Mateo excitedly traveled through the Pumpkin Patch seeking out the perfect pumpkin. He picked out a slightly green one since many of the bright orange ones had been starting to get old and mold. I asked him if that one was going to be a Zombie or Creeper maybe?
“No, Mom.” was all he replied.
Next we came to Mom and Dad’s favorite spot to stop along our annual trip, the Brewery. The Brewery has to be the most crowded place of the day. A table opened up and Reuben and Maya snagged it and Mateo followed me into line. The line to get drinks was very long. I encouraged Mateo to go sit with his dad and sister while I waited in line, but he insisted on staying with me.
A nice man in front of us noticed Mateo’s Minecraft shirt and asked, “Do you play Minecraft?”
I waited for a response, and it took a while and Mateo finally responded, “Yeah.” Eyes turned down the whole time, his head pointed at his feet with his response.
That was about all this stranger in front of us would get out of him. But he went on asking me what I thought of Minecraft. I told him that I am a Web Developer and really love it for my son. He’s learning early programming commands and is getting really good at typing and writing. He told me he was an architect and how it’s so good for kids to learn spatially like that. How they are able to see and understand 3 Dimensions so much easier. We had a long conversation in line. He had slightly older kids. As we were talking he kept watching Mateo.
The line was very slow moving and it was making Mateo very anxious. His stimming had taken off. He was rapidly patting his head, one hand then the next like a bongo drum on the top of his head. He anxiously jumped up and down swirling his hands in front of him. The man just watched briefly, I could tell he was curious but didn’t want to offend either of us. I wasn’t sure if I should just tell him about Mateo having Autism. It didn’t relate to our conversation, but maybe I could have helped spread some Awareness. Right now Mateo is very self-conscious about things. He is completely aware of his behaviors, but there is nothing he can do, he needs and has to stim.
Today as I reflect on it, I really believe I need to talk to Mateo more about it. Ask him if it’s ok if I talk to people when they seem curious about stimming and Autism. I don’t really know what his response will be, he hates me talking about Autism. I feel it’s so important to talk about it though, it’s not going away, it does not define him but it’s part of him.
We finished at a fun little petting zoo. The alpacas, goats and sheep were the perfect way to end a fun family day! Mateo really enjoyed everything once we were out of line. Made me think about Disneyland and how we haven’t been back since they changed the pass rules. Lines have always caused him a huge amount of stress. Well we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am curious though how other parents or individuals with Autism handle strangers and bringing up the topic of Autism.