Some people may not understand the pride I felt the other day when my twelve year old autistic daughter proved she was more than capable of making a decision. We went to a nearby village where there's always an ice cream van in the main car park for the tourists. I pulled into a parking bay a few spaces from the van and asked Amy if she wanted an ice cream. Her eyes lit up and so I reached for my purse and took £2 from it. "Here you are," I said, "you go on your own, I'll wait here." She took the money and got out of the car, reveling in her newly rewarded independence. I saw her standing awkwardly in the queue behind the person in front, shuffling from one foot to the other, probably rehearsing in her head what she would say when it came to her turn. I was ready to jump out of the car should there have been a problem, but she has been better with money recently so I thought maybe it was best to take a step back.
I saw her nod a few times and smile at the lady serving, and then I watched discreetly as she handed the money over. Before I knew it she was getting back into the car with a delicious-looking ice cream. "Look, mum," she began, "the lady asked me if I wanted pink and white together so I said yes please." I noticed the flake stuck in the side and licked my lips. "I asked for a flake as well," she continued. "How much was it?" I asked. "Two pounds exactly, so I haven't got any change. The lady asked me if I wanted a small one for £1.50, a medium one for £2.00 or a large one for £2.50, but I only had £2.00 so I asked for a medium one."
I didn't get a lick of the ice cream but I was smiling all the way home. For a child with absolutely no road sense, a child who finds it difficult to make a choice, a child who needs constant prompting, this is a milestone I had to share with you. She's 12. She's autistic. And she's amazing.