By Trevor Pacelli
Far too frequently I get the idea that because I have slower speech and a lack of understanding towards other people, I can’t be of significant help to them. But this Memorial Day, I was proven wrong about myself.
You see, I was sitting on a park bench in a forested area near my home. All seemed fine, until I suddenly started hearing high-pitched screaming and crying. I ran over to see the source of the mayhem, and I saw two women who clearly didn’t know each other, one with two huskies, and one sitting on the ground, a smaller black dog held tight in her arms. I asked what happened, and they told me that one of the larger dogs had bitten the smaller dog on the neck. They told me to call 911, which I did. The problem though? These types of emergency services don’t help dogs. The woman with the larger dogs said that she would help out the smaller dog, but needed to go back home to get something. So as she was walking away, she shouted out her name and phone number to me before I could get a chance to get it right. By the time she was gone, the other woman, I’ll call her Kayla, realized that she was just trying to escape the situation. Then her injured dog, I’ll call her LBD (Little Black Dog), ran out of her arms and into one of the bushes, her front left leg clearly damaged. Kayla started to freak out, as she took it as LBD losing trust in her as an owner.
Kayla’s next mode of action was to take LBD to the pet hospital, which in our circumstance, was at PetSmart. She asked me to come with her as a witness, and I quickly said yes. I got into her car, and the whole time, she was still sobbing and panicking over thinking she was a terrible dog owner. I kept affirming to her that she did nothing wrong, from what I could tell from the situation. So after a drive that felt longer than it really was, Kayla brought LBD into the hospital wing of PetSmart. I sensed her trauma, so as we were sitting in the waiting room for the doctor to come and check up on LBD, all I did was pat her back to let her know that she was not alone.
Then the doctor came to check up on LBD, which meant he had to take her away from Kayla, definitely not easy for her to accept. Thus, we waited as they checked on the damage done by LBD, and at this point, I was mainly repeating to Kayla that she did nothing wrong, and that it would be unlikely that LBD would dislike her now. But Kayla was more concerned about LBD being able to go for walks, after facing such trauma with a larger dog. Then the doctor came out, and he told her that LBD had quite a bit of swelling and damage to her back and front left legs, and that they would have to take some X-rays. I decided it was good to ask how the trauma would affect a small animal like LBD, and I believe from what I can remember that he said it would likely be traumatic at first, but would heal over time.
At this point, Kayla decided that she didn’t need me around anymore, as she had called her boyfriend to come over and help her out. So she agreed to give me a ride home as she waited for the X-rays to develop. As we got into Kayla’s car, I then asked her, “Can I pray for you?” Now, I am of strong Christian belief, so praying is a part of my way of helping others in need. So I said a quick prayer for Kayla, and she drove me home. As she dropped me off, she was ever so thankful that I was there to help her. Later that day, I got a text message from Kayla (I gave her my phone number in case she needed my eye witness later on) giving the status report on LBD. She even texted me a video/status report that I assume she sent out to her other Facebook friends, of LBD on her car seat. I texted back saying I was going to continue praying for her.
I learned something very important about myself from all this. Just because I have autism does not mean I can never help somebody in need. Nobody has to do anything elaborate to help somebody else, it only requires giving your time to let somebody else know that they’re not alone. It’s not a matter of how good of a speaker I was, I understood the situation and knew ahead of time how to verbalize what happened, so talking my way through it just came naturally.
So again, autism does not mean incapable to love or show a random act of kindness. It doesn’t even mean a limited ability to help others. Anyone can aid anyone in need, all it takes is a simple reminder that we are not alone.
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Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.