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Halloween, Karen, Police, and A-Nod

Two weeks before Halloween, the Iowa State Fairgrounds held its Drive through Organizational Halloween Resource Event, giving treats and resources to families through their car windows. Covid was still a trickster, so masks with costumes were strongly encouraged, especially for those families with health concerns. That said, concerns and expectations were discussed with our sons as Sr. drove our A-NOD FOR Situational Awareness LLC van to the southern gate of the Fairgrounds for the event.

Usually, the Fairgrounds gates are accessible, but this day it was inundated with impassible and sensory overloaded road confused candy seekers, which caused one woman behind our A-NOD covered van to act in a road rage fashion.

Karen, we'll call her, with her very young passenger in her back seat, was verbally heard and seen rapidly honking her horn behind us while a costumed cow branded our vehicles with a black marker numerically. We were number 358, and Karen was still behind us, displaying her road rage-like acts.

The twins Larry Jr and James looked out the back window and began to giggle and wave at her. Immediately I redirected them and looked her way, and gestured an apology. I wish I could say that she chose to smile and acknowledge us. Yet, she continued to honk her horn, throw her hands up, and then decided to let the bird fly with one of her fingers towards the twins, who then told Sr.

Naturally upset with her choices, we had to assist our sons with their reactions to what she had done. You see, Karen's actions unknowingly caused a sensory situational experience for our family within our van, triggering Robert's sensory issues that caused him to verbally yell out loud. This caused the twins to act up, which then caused Michael to wish we hadn't come at all, which then caused the twins to restart their interactions with Karen, who was now trying to advance towards our van bumper with her car as well appear to remove her belt and open her car door in a threatening manner.

These manners made the inside of our van experience ever tenser, which, needless to say, made Sr angry and decided enough was enough. So, when he felt like it was enough to drive to another part of the Fairgrounds, he chose to get out of our van, stand next to it, and assertively suggest she stop what she was doing and mindfully be aware of her next choice. Thankfully she chose to close her car door and window and then silently follow us as we drove the event path to receive the candy.

The candy was good, and it began to soothe the boys' and Sr.'s actions and change our thoughts to what we should eat now and save for later. Our experience was not a total loss been a total loss, nor was we going to her choices make it so. We had been aware of Karen's actions and had chosen how to respond to them, yet what happened next was the main reason why we had decided to create A-NOD For Situational Awareness LLC.

Karen decided once again to make her presence known in our situation. While we were driving, Sr. saw her take out her phone and begin to take pictures of our license, our A-NOD plates, and our business signs on our car. We discussed the positiveness of her choice if she had chosen to post them or to call the Police, especially in terms of A-NOD. Yet, we weren't exactly sure of her intentions based on her prior actions, so we decided to call the Police ourselves when we got home so that they would understand the interaction hers before the call. This was also done to prevent any other stress or actions from Robert, our oldest. If the Police had come unexpectedly, Robert would have responded verbally and aggressively in their presence. We wanted them to be aware of why so that they could react accordingly. The only thing we didn't really know was if Karen had indeed called the Police, but in hindsight, I'm glad that we did. Let me explain.

The Officer came out in the afternoon, and we began to explain our experience to him. As if on cue, Robert came out and demanded to know why he was here and told the Officer to cuff him right now. The Officer looked at Robert and then looked at us. Immediately we told the Officer about Robert's spectrum condition, explained our role and our business, and then suggested to the Officer how to respond to Robert so that he'd calm down. Immediately the Officer understood and changed his approach, tone, and stance with Robert, which created the space for Robert to respond differently towards the Officer. Robert was no longer reacting in the Officer's presence; instead, he was choosing to watch his words, his voice volume, and the Officer's boundaries, as well as ask the Officer to watch him make baskets in his hoop. Agreeing, the Officer chose to do precisely that and watch him twirl the ball on his fingers and even praised Robert's enthusiasm and accomplishments. Robert was grinning from ear to ear and was saddened when the Officer had to go. Still, they were showing A-NOD's core message, Together Safety and Support For All. It was fantastic to see and a choice of another not wasted. We were all aware, and that made the difference. A-NOD futuristically hopes that this will continue. Time will tell.

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