Smell These!

I encountered a very simple yet perfect illustration of autism this past Saturday, at least autism for Aaron.   It wasn’t a profound experience, but was – like I said – very simple, yet spoke volumes to me.

I decided to plant a few flowers in an empty spot in one of the front flower beds.  I also needed some mulch.  Aaron is like a dog sniffing the air on weekends, waiting for one little whiff of either me or Gary running an errand.  Then he’s on it!  He wants to go with us, no matter where we’re going.  I do know I would cross the line if I told him I was shopping for clothes.  He would nearly go anywhere but clothes shopping!

I told him I was going to a couple nurseries to look for flowers and mulch.  “Can I go?!” he immediately asked.  And of course, I said yes.

Off we drove, with Aaron turning on his latest CD choice.  He rubbed his hands together and gave his low chuckle as he listened to the song that played.  He LOVES hearing music while we drive, his latest CD always on the very beginning of the current song selection……because Aaron will never, ever exit the van until the song he is listening to is over and the next song number pops up.  Off goes the CD quickly before the song starts!  That way, the next time we get in the van, the next song is all ready and waiting for Aaron to push the “on” button……and away we go, happy as can be. 

We eventually ended up at Denning’s Greenhouse.  Aaron and I walked into the section where I hoped to find the flowers I wanted.  I was immediately struck by the beautiful hanging baskets with their unusual fluffy flowers hanging down. 


“Look, Aaron!” I exclaimed.  He reached up to touch the soft growth and I let him.  They were so pretty and so soft!  I was going on and on about them, but Aaron had seen and had touched and he was ready to move on. 

But everywhere I turned there was more beauty to behold.  The large yellow flowers….


The dainty purple and white blooms……


And then I saw the one that always makes me laugh….


“Aaron, see this one?  It always reminds me of my hair!” I told him with a laugh.


But Aaron was less than impressed.  In fact, all through the nursery he was sighing and becoming impatient.  Aaron, who usually loves the unusual, was acting bored and very ready to leave.  Was it too warm?  Too colorful?  Was Mom acting too weird?

Probably that last one.

So I went to the pretty little Verbenas growing all in a group, and I began to choose the three I wanted.

Aaron stood there sighing.

“Why do you have to pick out flowers?” he dully asked.  He was the epitome of rank boredom.  You would have thought we were clothes shopping! 

I knew it was time to leave.  No exploring the other greenhouse to check out garden veggies for future planting, I decided.  I was a little mystified by Aaron’s lack of interest in all the different plants, but then again we never totally know about Aaron.  Who can tell, but Aaron, why he is interested in one thing one day but not the next.

I was busy at the register paying for my three little Verbenas.  I wasn’t aware that finally something had grabbed Aaron’s attention.

Onions.  Yes, common everyday onion sets in a little net bag. 

“MOM!!” I heard him say loud and clear.

I turned and saw him holding the small bag up to his face, his nose planted in the mesh. 

He lowered the onions and turned to me.

“MOM!!” he said again, loudly.  “SMELL THESE!!”

So I stepped over to him and he held the bag up to my nose.  I took a deep sniff while Aaron laughed happily. 

“Those are ONIONS!!!” he told me as if I had no idea what I just sniffed.

“Yes, they are!” I replied.  And Aaron did one more face plant into the net bag while he sniffed with joy.

“Those are ONIONS!!” he exclaimed again as we walked out of the nursery.  Everybody there knew that those were onions at this point. 

“They hurt my NOSE!!” he informed me, and everyone else, as we opened the door.

I just laughed.  Aaron has always had a fascination with onions and with how they smell, so I wasn’t surprised at his unusual show of delight over a simple bag of onion sets.

I thought that surely Aaron would show the same level of enthusiasm for all the unique and pretty flowers that we saw blooming in the nursery.  And maybe on another day he would.  But for whatever reason, on this day, the blooms and colors and shapes did very little to interest him. 

He was drawn to what I didn’t notice.  And how true this is of Aaron’s life!  He notices what to me is mundane or common or just off my radar, and he makes it into the grandest thing ever.

It might be funny……or embarrassing……or awkward…..or frustrating, to us.  But it’s none of those things to Aaron.  He immerses himself in the moment, and tries to take us with him. 

We can hardly ever make Aaron enjoy what we enjoy if his level of interest just isn’t there.  He can’t even fake it!  We know, trust me, if Aaron isn’t into whatever we want him to be excited over. 

So onions it was on Saturday!

Who knows what it will be today! 


Author: Patty hesaidwhatks

I'm Patty and I write about our adult son who has Epilepsy and Autism, who still lives with my husband and me, and who is a package full of many surprises and joys and challenges and TALK! Lots of talking, which creates laughter and some other reactions as well. I also write about how God shows Himself to me in everyday life.

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