This is why behavior is communication.
My ‘rents and I went to Supercuts because my bangs (fringe?) needed a trim, mom needed a haircut and my dad needed haircut and a beard trim.
I’m at the back half of my sensory-hell-everything-hurts phase due to Aunt Flo’s visit, but my choice was go today or wait another month and my bangs were literally poking me in the eyes. So I went. I had my black Tangle and my No Gloom ‘Shroom. I took earplugs in a baggie too, just in case.
We get into Supercuts and it’s loud. Hair dryers, clippers, an angry yelling kid getting his first haircut(he gets a pass tho, poor kid!) while another kid– a little black girl who was probably 10 or so– played with the wooden blocks in the toybox with her parents nearby. Yeah, Supercuts has stuff to entertain kids.
I sat off to the side by the toybox and did my head-ducked-temple-tapping routine that I do when I’m overloaded. It wasn’t enough to send me into a meltdown, but I had to really focus. I put my No Gloom ‘Shroom in my mouth and twiddled my Tangle as I angled my head to watch the kid playing with the blocks. She was cute! I don’t know what the hairstyle is called, but she had her hair done up in lots of braids that stuck out every which-way with cute ponytail holders on the ends, and the parts in her hair looked like patchwork on her scalp. (I love seeing little black girls with that hairstyle, it’s adorbs!) I also noticed she was sucking on a pink pacifier.
I put my head down again. About five seconds later the little girl came over and handed me one of the green triangle-shaped blocks. They were wood with grain on one edge, but finished smooth to prevent splinters. She jiggled the block up and down and I immediately pocketed my Tangle and rubbed my finger on the grain. Her face kept the same curious expression, but she jumped up and down like I answered a question correctly.
This kid picked up on my distress and comforted me with something that made her feel good.
Her parents didn’t interject. They probably figured out I was autistic too by the way I acted when I sat down. I glimpsed them smiling a bit in my peripheral vision as I showed the girl how cool it felt to rub the grain-side of two triangle blocks together.
I didn’t say a word to her, I just got down on the floor beside her and lined up blocks with her. Sometimes I took the round peg shaped ones and rolled them back and forth between my hands like a kitten batting a ball around. She picked up the rectangle block and dropped it repeatedly on the little play mat like she was experimenting with all the ways she could make it land. It felt so natural, like we carried on a sensory conversation that included only us.
We didn’t look at each other at all, except to watch our hands and the blocks. We played with those blocks until it was my turn to get my bangs trimmed.
The place got quieter when the future death metal scream kid was finished having his first haircut. NOW I could really relax all the way, just in time to put up with the unpleasantness of a bang trim. I was a lot calmer and I attribute the biggest part of that to the girl inviting me to talk to her. I gave back the block the girl gave me and jiggled her hand like she jiggled mine. It was how she said hello, so I thought I would use it to say goodbye. She slapped the floor as I got up and resumed playing like she was before.
I heard her parents praise her when I walked off to my bangs trimmed. Her parents were complimenting her for communicating with me her way instead of trying to force non-autistic interaction. They respected her behavior as meaningful rather than dismissing it as “meaningless repetitive movements”.
That’s parenting done right.