Car Horns, Autism, and Communication


You know when you’re chatting with a friend and your child, impatient in the car, honks the horn? Yes, that’s happened to me with my daughter (or my husband). When I hear that honk, the hackles come out, smoke pours out of my ears, my eyes turn to slits, and when I turn around and look at the person who dared honk, they wish they would have never made that unforgivable error.

So that’s how it usually goes. But the other night, the simple honk of the horn was actually a miracle of sorts.

It was early evening and Braden was having a really difficult time. He was obviously distressed. He wouldn’t sit down, was pacing back and forth, and looked very upset. Just like one does when they have a distressed baby, I took Braden on a ride in the car to calm him. We had been driving for about 20 minutes when I decided to drive by my friend Nancy’s house to say hi. I pulled up and she came out to her front porch to chat while Braden sat in the car. We had been chatting for about 3 minutes when I hear “Beep.”

“Was that Braden?” I asked Nancy, who looked puzzled as well.

“Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeeep!”

It was Braden! We walked to the car, and I asked him if he was honking because he wanted to leave, and he said, “Yes. Leave please.”

Just another pain in the butt teenager moment, right? Wrong. That honking was COMMUNICATION! Braden, who had never honked the car horn before (in fact I didn’t even know he knew there was such a thing) communicated with me that he had had enough waiting. He wanted to go on a ride.

“I have to honor Braden’s request, Nancy. We have to go for a ride!”

And we did.



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