I went to Walmart the other night with my toddler and my parents. That entire day my son did not want to eat. He just wanted to play and play. While fighting the Walmart crowds and trying to shop, we noticed he was feeling fussy. I blamed it on the atmosphere, noise, people, lights, etc.
As we passed by the McDonald’s section, he ran towards a lady and tried to steal one of her fries (he succeeded). And that’s how we realized he was hungry. Her reaction was super sweet. She told us not to worry and she started talking to him. She even offered to give him the rest of her fries.
I can’t stop thinking about her reaction.
Although I am extremely grateful for her attitude, I can’t help but wonder. She was responding to a cute 4-year-old little boy. What will happen when he is older? What happens when he’s 18 and wants to steal someone’s fries?
Autism awareness is increasing. Again, I’m so grateful for this. But a lot of people only associate autism with toddlers or kids. What about the autistic adults? So often, society mislabels them as “weird,” “different” and even “scary.” All I can think about is how that’s going to be my kid one day. The day will come when he is not cute and little. One day he’s going to be a man. How will society see him? How will society treat an “awkward” man who might not understand social cues? As he’s growing up, my fear is that he will be bullied and have difficulty being accepted.
I watch the show “The Big Bang Theory,” and the last episode was about a birthday party for the character Sheldon Cooper, who many suspect is on the spectrum. It was showing how his friends knew he was different, yet he was accepted. I know this is a fictional story, but I hope it doesn’t have to be. I hope my son will have friends who understand him and love him unconditionally. Until then, all I can do is wait patiently. All I can do is to keep paving the way for awareness and acceptance. Maybe, just maybe, as he grows up, he will be accepted. But isn’t that what all parents want? For their kids to find happiness? For their kids to be loved?
The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.