A mom is leaving a therapy center with her 3-year-old son. He has autism and difficulties with transitions. The little boy is having a terrible meltdown; screaming, kicking, hitting, collapsing to the floor.
Exasperated, the mother manages to get him just outside the door of the waiting room. That’s where I saw her, on my way to throw a stinky diaper in the trash outside. I asked her if she needed help. She said please carry my bag since he won’t walk.
On the way to the car she tells me she can’t believe that everyone in the waiting room just sat there and stared. No one offered to help; not the parents, not the staff.
I’m no saint either. I actually thought twice about offering to help. Not that I didn’t care. But because I’ve been there and I just thought maybe she had it covered, maybe she didn’t want help because she’s so tired of needing help.
But how silly is that? How many of us have been in a similar situation where maybe we didn’t want help, but we needed it?
This was a therapy center – we all should have known better. Instead of staring, every person there should have been on their feet offering to do something.
And what if the same thing happened at a grocery store, what then? What do you do when you have no idea that the child having a “temper tantrum” might have autism or some other condition that makes noises, lights, transitions, or who knows what difficult to endure? What do you do when you see a parent struggling with a struggling child? Do you stare? Do you give a sympathetic glance? Or do you offer to help?
It’s easy to say, “Oh I’d help in a second.” I’m sure most people would say that. But when actually faced with the situation – what do you do?