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Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles

Posted on May 8, 2012 by Flannery

Although we’re back to using the drop-off lane at school in the mornings, last week I had to park and walk Connor in to drop some things off.

His school has one of those big, shiny metal buttons near the front door that, when pushed, automatically opens the door.  It’s meant to be used by someone in a wheelchair, but Connor has been steadily obsessed with that button for three years.  Each morning he rushes to the door and hurries to get in front of other kids so he can push the button.  If the door is already open, he will wait for it to close so he can push the button and open it again.

Since I was walking him in, I decided to make it a teachable moment.  And also, I’m not much of a thinker first thing in the morning. Go figure.

So, this particular morning I told him we would walk together all the way to the door.  No running ahead.  We cross in the cross walk, step onto the sidewalk, and I notice his pace steadily increasing, until he is sprinting.  I stop.  I call him and tell him to come back to me, and walk together.

Remember, it’s morning.  There are all kinds of kids and parents scurrying around.  I don’t usually do stupid things without witnesses.

As we walked to the door, I told him we were going to just walk in without pushing the button.

“But I like to push the button.”

“I know, but every morning that’s all you can think about, and I want you to see that we can walk right past that button and go inside, and it’s not a big deal.”

“If it’s not a big deal, why can’t I push the button?”

“Because you’re stuck on that button, and you need to get unstuck!”

As we neared the door, I saw his arm reach out, but I quickly grabbed it back and repeated, “we’re not pushing the button this morning, just let it go.”

We got to the door, he pulled it open, and in his sweetest, most respectful voice ever, said “after you, ladies first.”

My heart swelled with pride.  I turned and thanked him, and told him he was having wonderful manners.  Hey other parents, see that?  See how mannerly my kid is??  As I stepped through the door, I turned…just in time to see him dash for the button and push it.

Nicely played, Connor.  Nicely played.

And this is why I should always stay in the car, because I’m not even smarter than a first grader, let alone a fifth grader.

No. No I’m not.

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