Alex has always loved going places, and he can be ready at almost a moment’s notice to get in the car and go somewhere. When he was very small, he was content to ride in his stroller and take in the sights. I can vividly remember taking him to an outdoor arts and crafts festival when he was about eighteen months old, and he had a great time, just riding and looking around at everything. Wearing his tiny sunglasses and having one foot propped up on the edge of the stroller, he looked pretty relaxed. When he was a little older, he enjoyed riding in shopping carts and never complained about how long we spent shopping, nor did he ever ask for anything. As a reward for his good behavior, we’d take him to look at something he really liked—usually televisions or computers. Because he was happy and safe riding in shopping carts, I kept putting him in the cart, even when he was really too big to ride. Despite his long legs and my short stature, I could lift him into the cart with relative ease. Once, an older gentleman watched me maneuvering Alex into a shopping cart and observed, “Honey, he ought to be putting YOU in the cart instead of the other way around!”
After Alex was too big to ride in strollers or shopping carts, we had more difficulty taking him places. Probably overwhelmed by all the sensory stimuli in public places, Alex seems to lack awareness sometimes of other people and could likely run into them. In addition, we are still training him to watch for cars when crossing parking lots because he often acts oblivious to their presence and the danger they potentially pose to him. We have also worried at times that he might dart off to look at something he really wanted to see. Currently, he has a fascination with thermometers in freezer and refrigerator cases at the grocery store; we’ll catch him tilting his head to see what the temperature is in the cold cases. With his long legs, Alex can walk quite rapidly, and keeping up with him is no easy task. Our greatest fear in taking him public places is that he will somehow get hurt, which often leads to a meltdown. Therefore, we must protect him diligently when we are out to avoid his becoming upset and causing a scene.
A few years ago, Ed was briefly hospitalized, and my parents and I had to walk around the hospital with Alex. My mom noticed wheelchairs parked in the hallways, which gave her a brilliant idea of how we could transport Alex in public places. She and I brainstormed—as we often do—about the pros and cons of getting Alex a wheelchair. While I was concerned a wheelchair would be too heavy and expensive, I was most worried that Alex could catch his fingers in the spokes of the large wheels. I remembered seeing a wheelchair used at our school for students who were injured that was lighter weight, portable, and had small wheels. After some Internet searching, I discovered these wheelchairs were known as transport chairs, and this seemed to be a perfect solution. That week Walgreens happened to have a sale on transport chairs, and we bought Alex a red one (his favorite color) for around $100, which was a good investment. Now we can take him crowded places, such as Walmart or the county fair, by pushing him in his transport chair. We know that Alex is safe and happy riding along in his chair, just as he was content when he was little and enjoyed the stroller or shopping cart as his primary means of transport.
“For in Him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’” Acts 17:28