Seth on his annual birthday trip with Tara at the mall.

I first met my friend Seth when he was a teenager about to graduate from Hickman High School. We didn’t start as friends. I was requested to assist in him in transitioning out of high school and later into his home, an ISL, supported by ACT.

Seth’s transition wasn’t easy, like many young adults, his journey had several hurdles along the way.

Even though it wasn’t easy or perfect; I feel confident saying that today Seth is pretty happy. He may always have days that are difficult, or harder than others, but who doesn’t?

Seth likes otoscopes. He also likes ophthalmoscopes and stethoscopes. While liking medical equipment might not be typical for most people, Seth likes what he likes.

It would be accurate to say that he has real passion for his “favorite things.” For those of you who know Seth personally know exactly what I’m talking about. Those of you who don’t know Seth, just need to know he likes his favorite things so much that he recently visited the Welch-Allyn factory in Minnesota where they make his favorite things as part of his ultimate dream vacation (read about that trip here).

When I first met Seth, a majority of the goals we worked on together were associated with assisting him to learn to find additional things he likes outside of his restricted range of interests.

Seth has had some success in meeting that goal, and he tries his best to limit his need to share his knowledge and love of his favorite things. I have always told Seth, “it’s okay to like what you like”, while explaining that he will probably never find anybody else who loves otoscopes as much as he does.

I’ve told him “it’s okay to like what you like” so many times that he frequently tells me the same thing, and finds it funny to tell me my own words. We laugh about it.

Seth also likes routine and feels comfort in rituals. One ritual that we share is a trip to one of his favorite stores followed by lunch at the food court. We do this on his birthday every year. It’s a ritual we both enjoy. I pick him up at 11:00 on the dot, and we have done this for the past eight years.  

This year was no different.

I picked Seth up and we headed to the mall. He picked out his gift and we went to the register. We started a conversation with the sales associate. Seth shared that it was his birthday and we had a conversation about many things for several minutes.

As we were wrapping up and heading out of the store the associate turned to me, and in front of Seth, said “Thanks for helping him.” I looked at Seth and then back at her.

It was awkward. I know that she meant well and did not in any way mean to assume that Seth needed my help, but still, it was awkward.

I really didn’t know what to say. Seth recognized this and turned to the associate and said, “It’s okay to like what you like, Tara likes me, she’s my friend.”

It was a great moment and I felt like it was an important thing to share. Most of us tend to make resolutions and set goals this time of year. This year I’m going to try harder at finding what is meaningful about all my relationships.

Seth is my friend. We help each other when we need help.

I’ve helped him try to find other interests and he’s helped me out of an awkward conversation.

It’s what friends do.

Happy New Year Everybody!