Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wanting Accommodations

Today I’m sharing a selfish desire. Sometimes, I want accommodations. I’m not talking about housing, but about getting a particular need met for my son, an uncommon convenience.

I know this isn’t how the world operates, we all have special needs to a degree, whether we’re running late and need a shorter line or we can’t eat glucose and need specially prepared foods. Sometimes our needs are met and sometimes we have to suck it up and deal with it.

This is where the selfish part of me wants to throw a fit.

Last week, I took my 3 boys to buy halloween costumes after school. This was something the younger boys were eagerly anticipating and since it was friday and we had no homework, I thought I would surprise the boys and take them shopping.

Mistake #1. Never do surprises, even good ones can cause my oldest too much stress.

As the boys ran up and down the aisle picking out their favorite costumes, my oldest seemed to be enjoying himself. But after his brothers made their final choice, he started to stress about not being able to make a decision.

Mistake #2. Always plan ahead.

With my son not being able to commit to a costume, his stress started to climb. So I eagerly tried to show him options and encourage him with his creativity. At one point, I recommended him trying on the costume so he could see if it was too itchy, knowing that this would be a deal breaker.

Mistake #3. Never do things to stand out in a crowd.

My son liked the idea of trying it on, but there was no way he was going to do it in front of everyone. I could sense his stress increasing and his brothers were starting to lose their patience.

Mistake #4. Always shop with the boys alone, not as a group.

I could feel his anxiety increasing, so I tried to think creatively and came up with a brilliant idea (ok, maybe not brilliant, but at the time it felt like it). I told him that we’d take our costumes to the dressing room so he could place it over his clothes in a private area.

With some apprehension, he seemed willing to give that a shot. Hooray!

Well, my plan backfired. When we tried to get a dressing room with our costume the attendant said, “Sorry, you aren’t allowed to try costumes on in the dressing room.”

I looked at the woman with begging eyes, “Really? There’s no packaging on this item, it’s just hanging on a hanger, can’t he try it on for a second?”

With authority she responded, “No, it’s our policy.”


Instantly, my son was done with shopping. He wanted nothing to do with halloween costumes and just wanted to go home. I was very proud of him, he was doing everything possible to keep it together even though he was right on that line, but inside I was crushed. We were so close to getting his costume.

I remember thinking in my head... Are you kidding me! You have no idea how important this dressing room is to us right now. You have no idea what ramifications will come, the meltdown that’s waiting in the car. The hours of upset because his brothers have a costume today and he couldn’t get one.

I wanted to plead with the woman, to beg for an accommodation, maybe I would’ve, if it weren’t for the look in my son’s eyes that said he was done!

It’s little moments like these that I selfishly get upset with society. I know that I made plenty of mistakes on this shopping trip and I know that this is in no way the employee’s fault, it’s just a fact of life that the things that my son may need aren’t easily seen by society. Unlike those on crutches or a person with a sight dog, my son’s challenges are invisible.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes, I just wish I could hold up a special card that symbolized his unique need, allowing me to make the world easier for him. I wish I had the power to make shopping for a halloween costume a fun experience, I dream to give him back his childhood.


  1. Making GB's invisible disabilities (Bipolar and FASD) visible was part of the reason I got her a public access psychiatric service dog. People know she has a disability as soon as they see them together.

  2. That is really cool GB's Mom! My sister-in-law mentioned these type of dogs to me, but I haven't explored it because of allergies in the family. But I am curious, how does the dog help your child? Can the dog sense your child's changing moods? I would love to hear more about that!

  3. I've heard about those dogs too! A lot of the Vets who suffer from PTSD use them, the dogs can sense their stress or how they're tense and can help calm them down and even remind them to take their medication!

    Whenever I go to the store I try to stay close to my foster brother, he helps keep me grounded. I hope your son is able to find a costume he likes. I loved going trick or treating with my little brothers.

  4. Hayden- That’s awesome that you have that connection with your foster brother. We all need someone we can lean on and trust!

  5. We help train service animals. Our past foster pup is now working with an occupational therapist in a chilrens' hospital. Our organization has placed dogs with people with PTSD and autism, but nothing yet for anything psychiatric.

  6. Your story reminds me so much of my 7 yr. old son. I can really relate. He was hospitalized shortly after his birthday. I spend most of my time now just trying to predict and deescalate his episodes. All I want is peace for him. I have been very interested in the idea of a service dog to help w/calming him before he becomes explosive. I am having trouble finding very much info. except sites that require way more money than I could ever dream of. How did you acquire yours?

  7. Hey Sarah, can you answer the previous question? I think it is meant for you.