Tom at Disney Land
I’m going to start with a classic, one story that I tell to everyone I meet when I want to give them a sense of the mischief and wicked humour that my brother possesses. It’s set at the entrance to Disneyland and very nearly ended with the pair of us getting arrested.
This particular story is a strong favourite for just about anybody who’s heard it and the perfect story to open with. This is the story of my little brother and his accidental racism. This story starts in Disneyland Florida, where we’d taken Tom for the first time when he was still quite young. While my mum took our little sister to the toilets I was charged with taking Tom to the men’s, nothing out of the ordinary. However our day changed when Tom was bumped by a guy as we were walking to the toilets. Being Tom he turned to me in his loudest voice and said ‘marc, that stupid black guy with the black T-shirt just bumped me.
Yeah, he said it just like that.
The Accidental Bit
As I said above this is the story of Tom and his accidental racism, and truth be told Tom wasn’t being racist at all. He was at a time in his life where he would identify people by the colour of the T-Shirts they wore(at the time I was the green guy with the green shirt). So when Tom referred to the man who bumped him as the black guy with the black shirt he was referencing the colour of the man’s T-Shirt not his skin. Unfortunately for all concerned the guy was black and, not unfairly, took what Tom said exactly the way it sounded. A long story short I played referee while Tom giggled behind me, enjoying the reaction he’d provoked even if he didn’t understand what was happening, and security started to approach from the entrance to the park. I was almost certain that we were going to be arrested, in Disneyland of all places, but luckily for us the man’s girlfriend or wife or sister(didn’t ask which) was willing to listen to my explanation and calmed everything down. I did tell Tom that it was rude to call him stupid, and I did apologise profusely to the man once he had calmed down.
Why I like telling this story
although this is one of the more scandalous tales from the big book of Thomasisms, it’s an important story to tell, because even things that seem incredibly strange, or incredibly rude, that someone with autism might say often have a much more innocent explanation. Look for the hidden meaning because nine times out of ten when someone with autism speaks what they say makes perfect sense, you’re just not understanding.
Something to take away: always listen to the green guy in the green shirt.