Going through airport security with our son Joey can prove to be interesting. His special needs requires us to “prompt” him to take off his shoes, “prompt” him to move forward, “prompt” him to go through the x-ray on his own. He listens, usually, but basically needs prompts.
We have our routine.
Joe put his things and Joey’s into the bin and sends the items on their way. At the end of the process, Joey obediently puts his shoes on. But this time, he kept tugging at the back of his left shoe, saying, “It’s not right.” We checked the shoe and all seemed fine, so we tied the shoestrings, and started moving him down the concourse to our designated gate.
Several times he mentioned that “it wasn’t right” but we all kept walking.
As we prepared to get something to eat, he sat down, and once again mentioned very nicely that “something was not right.” While I went to get us a sandwich, I asked Joe to please check Joey’s shoe. Joe came back to tell me that, indeed, something was wrong…he had accidentally put his watch in Joey’s shoe instead of his own as it went through security screening!
What a great reminder of the importance for those of us caring for one with special needs to be attentive and alert to things they tell us – verbal or non-verbal. It’s important to understand their facial expressions, their behavior or misbehavior, and as we stop, look, and listen to what we are observing and they seem to be saying, take action to solve their situation if we can.
Often, even the non-verbal person will have expressions that we can read just by looking into their eyes. We can see trust of the lack of trust; joy or sadness, frustration or contentment. And I think they can read our non-verbal communication as well.
That day was a reminder to me to listen and observe well, and not just keep on moving!
Next time? Yes, we’ll “watch it!”