She walked into the doctor’s office, trailing behind her mother. The feeling of overwhelm was everywhere. New office. New smells. New staff. New protocol.
Changes were hard for Amelia. Autism, she was realizing, was different for everyone, but for her the sensation of human touch was invasive and repulsive. Doctors and dentists were experiences to be tolerated and recovered from, much more so than for the average kid.
Where was he? Dr. Berger usually came out right away, knowing she hated all the preliminary people talking to her and touching her, totally disrespecting her personal space. But of course today was different. Today was about getting used to changes. Her mother explained things to each new person, but new people didn’t usually get it. It took time. She knew she was an anomaly and was starting to notice that other kids didn’t feel freaked out as she did. Which was probably why most adults had a hard time getting it.
As each subsequent person chatted with her, putting hands on her shoulders and talking to her with such juvenile language like “honey” (the worst), the feelings of disgust and overwhelm started traveling up her throat until, horrified, she felt the tears at her eyes.
And then he came in. Dr. Berger, her savior. Only he knew how she needed to be handled and spoken to and dealt with. Only he could be trusted. Dr. Berger would make it ok. It was going to be ok.
Sid was feeling overwhelmed this morning. New office, new smells, new staff, new protocol.
Change was hard for him. For decades he had managed his own practice. For decades, he was the man. Patients, now grown, would stop him at the grocery store to say hi. He was everyone’s grandfather.
Selling his practice and taking this background role had been brutal. Now others ran the show and told him what to do. His limited control was hurting. The younger doctors couldn’t understand. How could they? This stage of life was about getting used to changes. But it took time.
And then he saw Amelia.
Amelia was a smart and funny girl with Asperger’s. He always had made sure to prep his staff before Amelia came in. She didn’t like being touched or talked to in a patronizing way. Sid knew how to respect her dignity, intelligence, and boundaries and always retained control of the visit.
With a fresh sense of purpose Sid strode into the hall. It looked like Amelia was crying and her mother was saying something.
Sid and Amelia locked eyes. Suddenly each one knew it was going to be OK. There was a sense of purpose and relief in that hall as both human beings, decades apart in age, understood that the other had a role to play that no one could replace. There was a telegraphed message in that moment. It was about purpose. About feeling understood. Feeling needed. Relevant. A little less different. A small victory of shared otherness.
It was, indeed, going to be OK.
It was, indeed, going to be ok.