“I’m happy to switch places, sir. You all can come to the front of the line, and we’ll gladly wait an hour for Splash Mountain. But you have to take the autism too."
Of course I’ve never actually said this out loud. I’ve only thought it in my head when we get confused and angry looks for using the exits to board rides. You see, children with autism simply can’t wait in lines, and Disney is generous enough to accommodate families like ours.
Sometimes I wish autism had a distinct physical appearance so people would give Jeremy a break. Instead, we get stares once the autism shows itself: tantrums, hands over his ears, pulling his pants around his ankles for no apparent reason.
That he loves us I have no doubt. There are no two better words than “daddy hug.” He’s not even awake for the most precious moments we share. I often sit by his bed and watch him sleep, indistinguishable from a typical boy.
So if you happen to be standing in line for the Winnie-the-Pooh ride at Disney World and see us climbing in from the exits, be careful what you wish for. The benefits of avoiding the lines do not outweigh a lifetime of autism. You may dream of skipping to the front, but I dream of a two-hour wait.
By Len Siegel, dad of Miranda, 13, and Jeremy, 11