My wife was all ears.
I should say before relating this story that Clay’s teacher is a great guy who has a real affection for the little fellow. I ran this entry past him to get the facts straight and make sure I wasn’t going to get him in any kind of trouble for sharing this. That is certainly not my intention.
So, here is the story:
Clay’s class makes a lot of forays into the community to work on life skills. They go food shopping, to the dollar store, bowling (yes, bowling is a life skill), etc. On this particular day they were heading to Red Robin for lunch (yes, eating juicy burgers is a life skill.) A little before they were about to leave, Clay’s teacher suddenly realized that the little fellow was nowhere to be found. Clay will occasionally bolt down the hall to the men’s room on his own (followed quickly by an aide) when nature calls, so there was no need to panic, just yet. But a quick sweep of the little guy’s usual haunts – the men’s room, the cafeteria (twice), the gym, hallways in between, netted nothing.
About seven minutes passed, although it seemed like an hour, and our teacher was starting to panic. Time for help. He contacted the head of security, asking him to check the security cameras to see if he could spot the little fellow.
Moments later he got an answer.
“I found him.”
“I checked there twice.”
“Look for yourself.”
Sure enough, when his teacher arrived, Clay was in the cafeteria, sitting at a table with some students, contentedly scarfing french fries after he dipped them in ketchup. After some questioning, it turned out that Clay had wandered into the cafeteria and hovered in front of the food line. The cafeteria ladies – knowing his love of fries – put some in a container for him. Then some students offered him a seat and got him ketchup. And there he was, happy as a dog with a piece of filet, munching on fries and hanging with his homies.
When Clay’s teacher came to collect him, the students said, “Don’t worry about it, Mr. S. We’ve got him.” They knew his name and were happy for his company.
So, the teacher left to finish organizing the trip to Red Robin, his heart rate slowing down to normal, feeling good that the Clay cocoon had kept the little fellow safe.
After hearing the story, my wife met Clay with his iPad and the following conversation ensued:
“Do you remember when you took off after going to the bathroom at school a few weeks back?”
“Did the cafeteria ladies help you?”
“Tell me about the kids you sat with?”
“yay they made me feel desired”
Just another day in the life of the autism ambassador.