Listen. I don't ever forget that I have three brothers....two of which have significant disabilities. They are always a part of my life and a big part of my family functions, but every once in a while...I am reminded that John does in fact have autism and it will rear its ugly head when you least expect it. Let me explain.
John has an iPad. He loves it. He watches Pluto TV (the buzzer channel specifically, which has game shows from the 70's and 80's on there that he loves to watch. Card Sharks, anyone?!) He watches YouTube videos of planes taking off and landing. He plays Solitaire and loves to Facetime his family. He has his iPad with him all the time. Last April, he needed a new one. So, I took him to Target, got him a new one and voila. Done. However in mid to late June, he was having issues with it while trying to use Facetime. The call would just "disconnect". He would call and *bloop*, it would "fail". I tried to mess around with it to see if I could figure it out. No luck. SO, I made an appointment at the Apple Store nearby to get it looked at in mid July. The technician there restored it back to factory settings (I could've done that!) and sent us on our way. It did not fix the problem. I made another appointment at the Apple Store for last night and well......here we go......
I was already running late because of a traffic jam on the thruway when we arrived at the mall for the appointment. As we were walking in and he says, "Does Best Buy have a bathroom?" I said, "Oh man John....I don't know?! Do you have to go?" "Yeah." (Him sensing my frustration because of being late) "I can hold it." As we walk in, I can see a "restroom" sign and turn around to say, "John there's a restroom right there...." but he was about 10 paces behind me, stopped....legs crossed "Holding it." I tell him to go to the bathroom and meet me at the Apple store which is right across the way.
I get to the store, attempt to check in and the appointment that I had a customer service support specialist schedule via chat, scheduled it for Wednesday instead of Thursday like I asked. (*The appointment confirmation came to John's apple ID, so I never checked it....my mistake, but...I was there now and wasn't about to go home!) After some "negotiations" with the check in girl, she agrees to put me in with a tech to fix the iPad.
We had to wait a bit....but oh well. I just wanted to get this fixed. About 25 minutes into the wait, I look over and John is crossing his legs again! UGHHHH! So I tell him to go to the bathroom again. (*Like, what's up with this bathroom urgency?!) He comes back and we finally get called....it's about 7:50 pm.
Fixing apple products takes time. So, the girl goes through a series of steps....nothing works so she decides to replace it. GOOD! FINALLY! She gets the other iPad, we update it, test it out....seems to be working...
While we were wrapping up, it's now 8:50....and they begin to close the doors to the store for the evening. John spots this and says rather loudly, "UH OH." I knew immediately....I said, "John, relax...we'll get out of here." (*He has a fear of being trapped in places like elevators, stores, cars without gas, etc.) The girl helping us (who was actually very sweet) says, "Yeah don't worry...that' just so people don't come in anymore."
We FINALLY get to leave. It's 8:55. We go to where Best Buy is because that's where we came in and that's where we parked near and they have their doors locked and shut. He stops dead in his tracks and says, "OH MY GOD"
I wasn't panicked yet. I figured, ok..no biggie....we'll just exit somewhere else and have to walk to the car from a different spot. Some kid comes up and says, "you can get out by 5 Guys". Ok....thanks. We head over there, walk outside...this took us to a COMPLETELY different area....even I had NO IDEA where we were in relation to where I was parked. It was dark. He was about to have a panic attack. He was walking so fast I could barely keep up with him. He was talking to himself, sweating....I knew we were on the verge.
I had to firmly tell him, "John, SLOW DOWN." He did....and I said, "We need to go back to where we started and go back inside to see if there is an exit somewhere around Best Buy." I will admit. I don't go to this mall very often so I really don't know my way around it! We ended up going the wrong way.....again.....
I could not find one security guard. Not one. As we walked through the mall he was getting more and more panicked because it was empty. Stores were closed with their gates up. No one was around. I'm not going to lie...it was at this point that I wanted to cry. I was tired. Frustrated. Irritated. But instead, it was like that "on the edge" cackling that came out. Am I on candid camera? Am I being punked??
We FINALLY get to a Starbucks in the middle of the mall and I ask the girl, "Where is Best Buy?" She tells me to turn around and head back......I stop her and say, "I just need to get outside to the parking area where Best Buy is!" She says, "OH! If you go out that exit....go down a long corridor to the end, make a right...then another right...you'll be outside by H&M and Pennys. YES! I saw H&M when I came in. Thank you!
We head to the corridor. Did I mention he's also claustrophobic? So a looong, narrow corridor....not his thing.... He's walking super fast again......
We FINALLY got outside, we were in the right area. We got to the car and I looked over at him and he had beads of sweat in his forehead and upper lip. I started the car and cranked the air. I then called my brother Larry to share with him what had just happened because I knew he'd get it. I knew he'd understand what we had just been through. (****Ask Larry sometime about his Denver trip with John. Just ask him....) I knew we could laugh together because we know all too well that if you don't laugh, you'll cry. So, we laugh.....because crying is too draining and laughing heals the soul.
I would be lying if I sometimes don't contemplate the thought, "I didn't sign up for this." But I did. I promised my mom I would take care of him and Billy. I will never not do that....but there are days when I am overwhelmed. Human. Tired. There are days where I just don't want to deal with this.
But I do. I ALWAYS will. I promised.
Today he Facetimed me. Guess what?????
It's still not working.......