Autism, disabilities, and the kindness of communityby Laura Shumaker, blog.sfgate.com
January 22nd 2013 10:47 PM
My son Matthew and I are regulars at C & L Lawnmower and Garden Equipment Repair in Walnut Creek. Matthew does garden work not only at Camphill Communities near Santa Cruz where he lives, but for a growing list of neighbors and friends, and therefore his “Gardener” tools take a beating.
When we go to the repair shop, we have a routine. Matthew, who has autism, goes in with the tool that needs repair and talks to the owner Jose. He likes to pretend he drove there himself. I wait about three minutes, walk in and fill out necessary paperwork (as if I just happened to be in the neighborhood), and we leave together.
It all changed this past weekend.
Matthew carried in his leaf blower, and I waited the usual three minutes. This time, when I walked up to the door, Jose motioned for me to hang back.
Matthew was filling out the paperwork himself.
“I’m sorry it’s taking me so long,” Matthew told Jose, “writing is hard sometimes.”
“You’re doing fine,” replied Jose, “take your time.”
I got back in the car, and 8 minutes later, Matthew walked out of the shop smiling broadly and waving a yellow claim check.
“I took care of it myself,” he said, “He’ll call me when it’s ready.”
We drove home, and Matthew jumped every time the phone rang. “I can’t talk now,” he told each caller, “I’m waiting for an important call.” Jose called few hours later and told Matthew his leaf blower was ready to pick up. From the look on Matthew’s face, it was as if the lottery had called him and told him a won a million dollars.
“I’ll be right there!” he said gleefully.
There are countless stories in the news lately about the abuse of individuals with disabilities that make my heart sick, but not enough about good, patient and kind souls in the community like Jose. Please send me your stories and I will share them this holiday season.
And if you need a good garden tool repair guy, I’ve got one for you!
C & L Lawnmowers and Garden Equipment Service
Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.
Read the first three chapters of my book HERE.
You’ll be hooked.
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