We made a quick stop into a store yesterday as a family, which is unusual because kids and stores are not generally a great combination. As we were walking into the store, Simon noticed an African-American bald woman ahead of us, and in a classic, no filter ASD sort of way, squealed as loud as possible, "What? Is that a boy or a girl?!" I was horrified. I knew right away that she heard him.
As we approached the door, she offered us a cart that was sitting there, then turned to address Simon and said, "I'm a girl!" At this point, I wasn't sure how this would play out, but I figured she was well within her right to let him have it even if it was what I would consider an autism-related comment. If he has to have those difficult moments, better now than later in life.
The woman explained that she spent many years as a second grade teacher, and her reaction was not one of anger at all, but rather one of understanding. Simon was embarrassed, but she explained that it was her choice to shave her head, that she liked how cool it felt in the summer. We also talked to him about how some people don't have a choice, with age and sometimes because of medicines that certain people have to take when they're sick.
All things considered, it was a teachable moment, and it was good.