Children on the Autism Spectrum often have a particular attachment to specific objects. It may change over time, or it may be lifelong. These can be music, art, computers, car registration numbers, bus timetables, or Thomas the Tank Engine.
These objects of attachment can be a great source of comfort, because time spent with these objects is time free from a whirlwind of thoughts and sensations. Playtime with their favourite toy may be the only time these children can relax.
Adults don’t understand this behaviour often imagine that these children are trying to be difficult, and that their parents are enabling bad behaviour.
That’s why this story of seven year old Jenson and his gifts from a taxi uncle and his cab company is pretty amazing.
The first gift
According to this Straits Times forum letter written by Ms Tina Tan, her son Jenson, who’s always had an obsession with the blue taxis of Comfort Delgro, once refused to leave a cab because he wanted to keep playing with the driver’s headrest cover. What happened next was an amazing surprise: the driver, Mr Kho, decided to give the headrest cover to Jenson. The boy left the cab, happy.
The black cloth cover was Jenson’s object of affection for many months to come.
The second gift
After long use and repeated washing, however, the cover wore out.
Worried that his son would have a meltdown or be unable to sleep, she began to search for a headrest cover exactly like his old one. She scrutinised every Comfort taxi she took to see if there was one. She even enlisted the help of her neighbour, whose father-in-law was a Comfort cab driver.
Unfortunately, she never found it.
Knowing Jenson’s condition, Ms Tan’s neighour wrote to Comfort Delgro for help. And surprise: Comfort got in touch with Ms Tan the next day, and offered to mail her a headrest cover. She also warned her that it was of a different material (the old design was no longer in production) but it was still black.
Thankfully, the boy accepted the new headrest cloth. He is a happy boy again.
If more people understood
This story is amazing because, though the item in question was of little value in and of itself, two individuals recognised how much it meant to another person, and went the extra mile to pass it on.
If more people understood autism and looked beyond the behaviour to see the person inside, we would be living in a more caring and inclusive society.