Three weeks ago, my son, benjamin, had a major panic/anxiety attack in Costco. Benjamin’s panic attacks do not involve flight, they are fight. I was with benjamin (19) and Keats (22).
I usually have indicators that Benjamin in having a rough day and do not take him out. He was not giving off any indicators that day. In fact, he was having a great day.
During this same Costco trip, there was a child who was yelling in the store. Not just a random yell, but consistent yelling in the store. Knowing this is a trigger for Ben, Keaton and I were keeping him as far away as we could. Unfortunately, the yelling was heard through the ENITRE warehouse. Ben had his headphones and music on, we told him to turn up his music.
Ben passed many children, we live in the land of epic reproduction. Seriously, 17.6 births per 1000 people. National rate is 12.5.
Yeah, lots of children.
Ben did not even glance at these kids, they were not out of control.
As we were standing in the food court line, second in line with a young child in front of us, the mother with the yelling child got in the check out line directly behind us. The child was still yelling. Ben took off and slapped the child.
He got away from me, he got away from Keats, and he slapped her.
Should he have ever touched the child? NO, absolutely not. The child was not at fault, the mother was for lack of parenting the child. Did we do EVERYTHING we could to prevent it? YES. I left the store with blood dripping down my shirt, bruises and scratch marks. He was not going after the child after the initial contact, he was literally sweating, his pupils dilated to the fullest size and not even with me at that moment, I was trying to bring him back. The mother said “she is just a child!” I asked her why she allowed her child to yell throughout the entire store, her lack of parenting makes it so I cannot bring my son out anymore. I did not stay and talk to the mother, at that point all my attention was getting Ben out of Costco. I am certain I appeared very heartless and cruel.
I understand people will want to know why we did not leave Costco as soon has Ben’s panic attack started, let me explain why. Ben has Autism as well. Not ‘on the spectrum’, not ‘high functioning, talking to us, in main-streamed classes.’ Ben has moderate/severe autism . Once we tell Benjamin the plan, we cannot vary from it, if we had left the store without doing the whole Costco routine, which involves the food court, I would not have made it home safely with him in the car. Ben also lives his life through Disney movies. Every situation he has a movie scene for, he answers in movie lines quite a bit and requests things in movie lines. He can answer yes and no questions, and answer questions when given choices as he is also echolaic. When Benjamin slapped the child, he was enacting a movie scene.
We have been taking Ben to Costco for 17 years without incident. We also understand that because this happened, even once is too much to take the chance again and have not nor will not bring him back. We decided this the day it happened.
Three weeks after the incident, I was at Coscto with my 3 daughters. My 20 years old (nonverbal autistic who also has issues with yelling children, but hits herself, not others), my 15 and 13-year-old. As I checked out, I was told there was a block on my card. After checking and not finding out why, the assistant GM said he would go and check it out. I proceeded to the food court line, because Emma also has a routine that must be followed, and was walking out the store by the food court and cashiers when the GM told me I was blocked and banned from Costco. Obviously, this is not the most conducive place to have this conversation. I was not contacted before this point, I was not asked for my side of the story, I was not allowed to explain the situation at all. I understand the phone number on my account was incorrect, but a phone call is not the only to contact a person in 3 weeks.
I returned the next day to speak with the GM, but spoke instead with the assistant GM. He told me I was never banned from any Costco, I and my daughters can tell you that is not what I was told, my membership was reinstated and I was told to call the Senior VP.
I spoke with the Senior VP, the child who was slapped by my son is an employee’s child. He told me Ben could still be charged with assault and child abuse, two felonies given Ben’s age, if the employee chooses to pursue it. The police have also been advised of the situation. I was also told I would be receiving a letter from their legal department about Ben and protocols.
Here is my question, disabilities do not stop once Ben became an adult. He is not suddenly cognizant of his disabilities nor does he understand felonies, child abuse, or police questioning. This is the first time Ben has ever struck a child in public. Ben is on meds to control his anxiety, but because he is not neuro-typical, we have a challenge in getting the correct dose and maintaining. He is finally in the intake process for services from DSPD, after 6 years of waiting, we have gone to his psychiatrist to change his meds since then, we have not been back to Costco, and select times we do go out to places because we know there are so many children where we live. We are doing everything in our power to be responsible and still allow Ben to live a productive life. When does the responsibility lie with the parents who do not discipline or control their children in public? They are allowed everywhere and I am not the only parent with children like Ben and Emma.
We have taken Ben many, many places, states, travels, ferry rides, Pike Street Market, national parks, rec centers, restaurants, and libraries. I have worked with Ben since he was young to behave in public places.
We have been places where a child is yelling or starting to throw a fit, and I go and talk to them and explain that what they are doing is hurting my son’s ears and could they please stop. I point out Benjamin to them while kneeling down and talking. And you know what? Every single time the child has stopped. I thank and tell them how much I appreciate them.
Children listen. They learn. They want boundaries.
My son and daughter want to be able to go out and do things that they enjoy.
Where is the balance? When will we reach a tipping point of children not being parented?
Until we do, Benjamin’s life has changed again as we try to figure out the best way to let him live his life and still deal with parents who do not take responsibility.
Also, we plan on leaving the reproduction capital on the nation, we just have four more years until we can, and think we need to find the following place to live.