The Comment a Woman at Walmart Made About My Son With Autism

It finally happened. I was on the receiving end of my first comment about my son, Lincoln’s, behavior today. The comment came from a woman in Walmart, of all places.

Lincoln has Asperger’s and he has trouble with impulse control, especially when it comes to wanting toys. Some days he’s good; some days, well, not so much. He wanted a Lego toy while we were at Walmart, and we made it clear that he wasn’t getting it today. Of course, this wasn’t the answer Linc wanted to hear and he was getting upset. In that whiny voice kids have, he stated quite loudly, “But I wannnnnnt it!”

At that moment, a woman came by with her cart and felt the need to comment, “Oh my God, how old is he?”

Without missing a beat, my wife (the anchor, the rock and all things strong in our family) said quite calmly, but oh so sternly, “Um, excuse me, but he has autism.”

I wasn’t quite so calm, and between gritted teeth, yelled with as much venom as I felt toward this sad, ignorant woman, “SO F*CK OFF!” She sped off saying nothing more, not even an apology.

My wife immediately chastised me, saying my reaction was inappropriate, making me no better than the woman who made the comment. In retrospect it was inappropriate, but it was a reaction. I’ve never been one to make excuses for my son and I never will. But at that moment, when someone felt the need to comment about my son, that’s when my angry dad side took over. Did it make her feel better about her life to make a comment like that to a total stranger? Was my son’s minor tantrum disrupting her wonderful shopping experience at Walmart? Who knows. And in the grand scheme of things, who cares?

Later at home, I watched Linc enjoy himself on our trampoline — innocent, happy, being himself — and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m not ashamed of my son. I’m not embarrassed of my son. But I am defensive and protective of my son, and I always will be.

I love you, Linc. Thank you for being my son and for letting me be your dad.

A version of this post originally appeared on Ink4Autism’s Facebook page.

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