Mom Writes Touching Note to Cop Who Knew How to Help Her Son With Autism

A mom in South Carolina wrote a touching thank you message to the highway patrolman who helped her and her son Jeriah, who has autism, when the two were recently stranded on a busy freeway.

The mother, who would like to remain anonymous, expressed how grateful she is in an e-mail sent to Trooper/Lance Cpl. Adam Klimek.

Officer Klimek stopped to help the family when their vehicle broke down on Highway 170 in Beaufort County, and after realizing that Jeriah was stressed out, he knew just what to do.

Not only was it over 90 degrees outside, but Jeriah was getting visibly anxious about the traffic flying by on the road. After helping Jeriah and his mom safely get out of their vehicle, Klimek invited the two inside his patrol car so they could cool off while they waited for the tow truck. Jeriah’s mom says it was around that time that Klimek recognized that her son has autism.

Klimek gave Jeriah a computer and let him watch “Curious George,” and after the tow truck arrived, Klimek offered Jeriah his hat and badge. Jeriah’s mom was able to breathe a sigh of relief, and she joked that Jeriah was having so much fun, he didn’t want to go home.

“[Officer Klimek] also told [Jeriah] that he was officially a patrolman and to make sure that everyone in the car always buckle their seatbelt,” Jeremiah’s mom wrote. “My son had a grin on his face about that.”

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety later shared an excerpt of the mother’s thank you note on Facebook.

South Carolina Department of Public Safety

In a copy of the e-mail sent to The Mighty, Jeriah’s mom wrote:

Today has been a very trying day. I was traveling with my son home who has autism and our SUV shut off on a very busy highway. If any of you know highway 170 it can be extremely dangerous when it’s time for people to go to work or when they are getting off from work. So of course today was about 92 degrees and I was stuck actually in the road. I called for roadside assistance and they dial 9-1-1 since I was in a dangerous situation. My son was sitting in the seat nearest the highway and getting very antsy.

About 10 minutes later a South Carolina State Trooper came to our rescue. His name is Patrolman Adam Klimek, but to my son he was just officer Adam. After talking and laughing together for about 20 minutes he invited my son and I to get inside his SUV so that we could cool off. Not only that he recognized that my son has autism and was getting upset. He took his electronic device and signed in to Netflix so that my son could watch Curious George. This worked perfectly because it helped him focus on something else. He had been sick that day and just wanted to go home. My son was very happy and of course this was an experience that we will never forget.

After he got us safely off the road and the tow truck came to get our car, officer Adam as my son called him took us to a safe area and I asked if it was okay for him to take a picture with my son. He even offered to let my son wear his official hat and gave him a badge. He also told him that he was officially a patrolman and to make sure that everyone in the car always buckle their seatbelt. My son had a grin on his face about that.

As a mother of children with special needs it is very difficult to get the world to understand what we deal with from day to day. This was a very positive experience that I’d like to share. Before officer Adam left I gave him a hug to tell him thank you so much from the bottom of my heart … He definitely saved the day. Hope you enjoy the picture of my son and officer Adam as he calls him. The funny part is that Jeriah had such a good time he didn’t want to get out of the car. He’s has new friend.


New Film Puts the Spotlight on Important Issues With Teens and Autism

Though this isn’t the first time a character on the autism spectrum has been the focus of a film, the latest reviews of “A Brilliant Young Mind” are leading us to believe it’s one well worth watching.

Nathan Ellis (played by Asa Butterfield) is diagnosed with autism as a young child, and by the time he’s a teen he finds his passion with numbers. He ends up joining the International Mathematics Olympiad after some encouragement from his math teacher, Martin Humphreys (Rafe Spall). Martin lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), and he serves as a wonderful mentor for Nathan, who’s coping with the recent death of his father.

If the story sounds familiar, it’s because director Morgan Matthews made a documentary, “Beautiful Young Minds,” about International Mathematical Olympiad competitors with autism in 2007. One of the participants, Daniel Lightwing, served as the inspiration for this story.

Butterfield, the film’s star, recently chatted with Time about prepping for the role, and he revealed that playing a character with autism was the number one thing that drew him in to the project.

“I didn’t know very much about people who were on the spectrum,” he told Time. “I spoke to a lot of them, met with a lot of young men who grew up on the autistic spectrum and learned about the things they had to deal with. One person in particular, called Daniel Lightwing, who my character was loosely based upon, I spoke to him for quite awhile.”

“A Brilliant Young Mind” hits theaters in the United States on September 11, 2015.

How These Kids With Autism Learned Social Skills At Zookeeper Camp

The Autism Society of Minnesota recently teamed up with the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota to create a special program aimed at educating and helping local youth with autism. The kids experienced everything from a hands-on meet-and-greet with bearded dragons to watching a cougar eat.

The inaugural session took place from August 24-27, and participants spent time both in the classroom and with the animals at the zoo.

The Autism Society of Minnesota

The camp was designed to help kids with autism improve social skills while learning about the animals and their behavior.

After introductions on the first day, the kids tagged along with a zookeeper to watch staffers feed a cougar, and they also stopped by the bear and leopard exhibits. After that, they spent time bonding with Applesauce the hedgehog and Milton the tortoise, and following a brief lecture, everyone was able to pet and feed the critters.

The Autism Society of Minnesota

In the following days, the group learned about the importance of providing enrichment to the animals at the zoo, and one of the counselors turned that into a lesson about communication, with the help of some bearded dragons.

“Bearded dragons greet each other by waving,” Brenda Schrader-Johnson, the camp’s lead teacher, told The Mighty, “[so we explained to the kids] that friends provide enrichment to each other by using greetings. Friends can say things like ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ to make each other feel happy.”

Instructors also spoke to students about nonverbal communication and how to express feelings without using words.

The Autism Society of Minnesota

The Autism Society of Minnesota’s Jill Pring explained why the critters were essential in the creation this program.

“In school, there might be one or two students in their classrooms on the autism spectrum, and they don’t really seem to fit in,” Pring tells The Mighty. “It’s hard to read other people, it’s a little bit easier when it’s animals. It’s not as stressful and as complicated.”

The Autism Society of Minnesota

My Son’s Autism Has Made Me as Strong as a Diamond

Dear Autism:

I hate your guts.

My life would be so much better if I never met you. You shattered the dreams I had for my child and my family.

I never envisioned the screaming, destructive tantrums that have lasted long past the terrible twos. I never envisioned that my son — born to two Ivy League-educated parents — would need an IEP and be labeled “special ed.” I never envisioned that simple things other families take for granted, like going out to dinner or taking vacations, could be so incredibly hard that often it’s just easier to not do those things at all.

You ruined the dreams I had for my son, who will most likely not go to college, live independently, get married, or have children of his own. You crept into my brain and filled my head with fears of him getting teased, bullied, or worse, because he is different and therefore vulnerable.

I shouldn’t forgive you for what you did. But I do. Why? Because forgiving you takes away your power over me. You tried to crush my spirit, drown me in anxiety and self-pity, and snuff out my hope for the future. You almost succeeded. Almost.

katherine jenkins andrew the mighty

Did you know that diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substances on earth? Did you know that they are formed under unbearably intense heat and pressure? Let me tell you something, Autism. I am that diamond. And it was you who made me the person I am today. You’ve made me stronger, more resilient, creative, compassionate, humble, and resourceful that I ever imagined I could be. I am the parent of a special needs child, and you should know that we are the strongest naturally occurring substances on earth. You can’t break us.

You’ve given me a purpose in life: to be there for my son, and to advocate and care for him until the day I die. And, when I can, to share my experiences with others so people who also have you in their lives know they’re not alone.

I don’t know who decided to bring you into my life and I don’t know if I believe it when people say, “Things happen for a reason.” What I do know is that I have a very special kid who has an amazing ability to break down social barriers even though he himself faces many barriers. Without hesitation, he’ll greet store cashiers by name after reading their name tags and ask them things like, “Do you like Coca-Cola?” or “Do you have a GPS?” Strangers who look like their faces have been frozen in a perpetual frown will be smiling after they encounter my son. Yes, he’s a little (OK, maybe very) odd, but he reminds us of what we often forget as we rush through our daily lives with blinders on: the importance of human connection.

Don’t get me wrong, Autism. I still hate your guts. But — and I didn’t think I would ever say this — thank you.


Andrew’s mom

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