To Market, To Market

September 28, 2016

A few weeks ago, we went to the Saturday  Farmers Market in Boston.  Robert was not happy and he let us know that happy he wasn’t.  He made loud noises. He kept pulling his father in any direction that would take him out of the crowd, beyond vegetable stalls, boxes of strawberries, and  bags of onions. To demonstrate his distress he patted his ears in quick short movements.  One might say, that his behavior was a typical reaction of a person with autism to an overstimulation by, among others,   seemingly aimless swarm of people, noise, and  crowded sidewalks. One might also ask, how could  we, the parents, subject our son to such environment.  Shouldn’t we know better?

Well, we did and we did not.

Years ago, we visited Farmers Market with both of our children quite a few times.  They were not very pleased then either, but somehow they both were able to contain their displeasure to either  a few well articulated words (Amanda) or to a few vague gestures (Robert). We didn’t expect anything worse than that.  If anything we expected better behavior.  After all, Robert grew up and learned a few things in the time that passed.  So, the strong and loud negative reaction to the place startled us.  We knew, we shouldn’t  surrender to Robert’s will, but we didn’t want him to continue expressing his wishes in such inappropriate ways either.  So after we bought a few dollars worth of fruit and vegetables – less than half of what we had previously intended – we decided to leave.  For reasons I still don’t understand, Robert accepted all of our shopping with the exception of a small box of blueberries.  He took them out of the bag and tried to return them to the stall.   Well, we sort of argued.  We used words.  Robert used  gestures and grunting noises. But reluctantly he gave up.  He walked with us toward parked car still expressing his displeasure, but he calmed down in the car.

One might suggest that I should learn my lesson and never take Robert to such overstimulating places.

I did learn my lesson and that is why last Saturday, we took Robert to Farmers Market again.  But:

  1.  We told him before leaving home that after walk around Pleasure Bay, we would go to Farmers Market.  We repeated that a few times on the way to Boston and mentioned that during the walk.
  2. We told him what we needed to buy. Blueberries! Every day Robert takes a small container of blueberries to his Day Program.  I reminded him that we don’t have blueberries at home.  I said we would buy a few more vegetables and fruit.

This Saturday, it was still noisy,crowded, and chaotic, but Robert was fine. No pulling, no protesting, no screaming and no patting his ears.  The matter of fact, as soon as he recognize the place, he smiled. We bought blueberries and eggplant for Robert, grapes and strawberries for dad, cilantro, scallion, and radishes for me.

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