Each night now, Conor walks the second floor hallways in an effort to get a little more exercise. It gets him off the unit, too, for a (slight) change of scenery. Same fluorescent lights, but at least it’s quieter and he has some room to walk around without bumping into another patient or Clinical Assistant.
A few nights ago, Conor started this funny walk. He started walking on the sides of his feet and then sometimes doing this funny goose step. He sang La La La at the top of his voice.
Great, I thought to myself, another stupid behavior to have to try to fix.
“Conor, walk correctly,” I told him firmly.
“Why should Conor walk correctly?” he asked, pointing at his chest.
“So you don’t hurt your foot,” I said, trying not to roll my eyes. So people won’t think I’m teaching you to be a Nazi with the goose stepping, I thought to myself.
After a few nights of this, I take a closer look at his shoes. His big toe is really poking the top of the shoe. I bend down and pretend that I know what I’m doing when I feel his big toe, like the guy at Nordstroms’ children’s shoe department.
Hmmmm, I thought. Maybe he’s grown out of his sneakers.
Since Conor asked to go to a small mall nearby on his earned outing today, I asked his therapist to help us buy new shoes. I thought briefly about just going to get the next half size up, but since we’re here anyway, I might as well have his foot measured.
Conor’s come a long way with having his foot measured. Believe it or not, when he was five years old, Conor would actually have a whale of tantrum when someone tried to measure his foot. God knows why. It got so bad that I bought one of the foot measurement doohickeys myself so I could do it at home. Seriously. Stupid, I know.
“He’s a size 6,” the sales woman announced.
“Excuse me? Did you say a size 6?” I asked incredulously.
I looked at his sneakers. They were a size 4 ½.
I could not believe it. Such an autism mom rookie mistake.
Despite all his skills, despite all his expressive language, sometimes Conor just
can’t communicate what is going on.
He can’t simply tell me, “Yo Mom, I need new kicks.” (Or whatever kids
say these days.) Instead, he walks on the edge of his foot and does a weird
Poor kid. Makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing all these years.