Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Pissed Off Mom...

There has been a letter going around the internet that a woman sent to a mother with an autistic child.  It is rude and cruel.  If you haven't read it, the link is here. I know the woman in question will never see this, but I'm going to post it anyway.

Dear Pissed Off Mom,

I do not have an autistic child.  My kids are, as you put it, normal.  In fact, my kids are very bright.  All three read well above their grade level.  My oldest son even skipped 7th grade math and went straight to 8th grade honors math.

When we first moved into the house we live in now, there was a little boy in our neighborhood that scared my son. This was about nine years ago so my son would have been five.  This little boy often hit him and my tender hearted son couldn't understand why someone would be so mean.  I didn't understand either, but didn't do anything since he wasn't hurting anything but my son's feelings. After a while, we learned this boy was autistic.

I sat my son down and explained to him that this boy's brain was wired differently.  He had a hard time telling what was right and what was wrong.  I told him that the boy was still loved by Heavenly Father, even though he was different.  My son looked doubtful and opted to avoid the kid. I didn't blame him. No one likes to be hit.

Cub Scouts unite!
I was lucky enough to be put in charge of the wolf scouts (8 yr old scouts) a few years later.  I was nervous when the autistic boy joined our little group, but hoped we could find a way to include him. Autism wasn't something I was familiar with, but I read what I could and asked to his mom for advice. I also insisted he have an adult helper of his very own.

The boy was still randomly violent. (He bit another boy and I once had to physically remove him from my cat.) His attention span was short.  He wasn't able to do what most of the other boys could do, but the other boys didn't seem to mind.  They took him in like a little brother.  Even my own son got over his fear and helped out.  They made sure this autistic kid finished every project and completed every requirement we did together. It was an amazing thing to experience.  I expected the other boys to tease or make fun of this autistic kid.  I never heard one negative word toward him.  Not even from the boy he bit.

The boys are teenagers now.  The same age as Max.  My son has learned compassion from this boy. He has learned to look beyond the obvious and see the worth of someone who is different.  My son, who is reading on a college level and skipped a year of math, has learned from a boy who will probably never read. My son no longer fears this boy.  He likes him.  He considers him a friend.  He says the other boy is funny and he likes spending time with him.

So now I am going to do for you what I did for my son years ago.  Max's brain is wired differently from other boys.  He still has feelings.  He matters. He might make strange noises, but all kids do that.  Kids like making weird noises.  Max has so much to offer the world, if you only stop and take the time to see it.  I think if my son can learn compassion and kindness from someone so different, you can too.  Then once you understand, you can explain it to your own children.  They don't need to be afraid.  They can learn to see the worth of someone who is different. Maybe Max could even put a smile on their faces.

A Loving Mom

1 comment:

  1. Janice, I've attended scouting events your son is involved in and I'm aware of how disruptive that autistic boy is and I applaud how well your neighborhood handles his disruptions. A couple of autistic boys live across the street from me. One is high functioning and the other has more severe problems. They are terrific young men and never cause a disturbance. I've never seen parents of autistic children who are better parents than these two boys' parents. Over the years I've learned that not all autistic children are the same and not all of their parents or neighbors handle autism the same. Perhaps this horrible letter will serve to remind all of us to be more compassionate, more accepting of differences, and to better educate ourselves to be more supportive of those who are different from what we consider normal. Perhaps this would be a good time to suggest teens and their parents read Hadley-Hadley Benson, a wonderful book with a major character who is a special needs child.