January 18, 2021

I keep seeing memes and anecdotes that treat “returning grocery carts” as a litmus test for goodness – whether someone is willing to help others with no benefit to themselves.

They underestimate the cost for someone on the autism spectrum.

For me, it is painfully uncomfortable to guide the beast back to its stable, wheels clanking harshly on the pavement, sometimes twisting unexpectedly and needing to be wrenched back in the right direction.

It isn’t the bare minimum of kindness. It’s a sacrifice.

I never leave a cart in the middle of a sidewalk, because my friends who use wheelchairs have taught me that this creates an insurmountable obstacle. I’m also mindful not to leave carts where they could roll into a car.

But when I can move a cart safely out of the way, without bringing it all the way back to its home, I do.

It does concern me that I’m creating more work for someone else. If everyone did what I do with my carts, I don’t think it would make a better world.

However, I believe in accepting individual limitations, and offering support that uses our strengths.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.