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Dear Parents, Kindness for My Child on the Autism Spectrum Begins With You

We were new to the area. We were just settling in and getting to know people at church. We had been invited over for a few dinners at people’s homes and the kids had some play dates. Things were looking good and we were really liking our new town.

Suddenly, no one talked to us at church anymore. No one called us back when we called to ask about play dates. We would go to church functions, and we were all alone. Children were now told to stay away from our children. My children were so confused. And so was I.

Later, we found that a particular group of women had decided our son was “awful.” They told everyone with kids that they needed to keep their kids away from ours. That I needed to be kept away from, too.

Suddenly, this new town, these new experiences weren’t so fun anymore. Suddenly, I was heartsick for my children.

What they didn’t know (and what I didn’t know yet as it would be two more years before my son was diagnosed), was that he had autism.

There is nothing wrong with my little boy.

I spent all my time as a mother when my children were small overseeing my children, disciplining them when they were in the wrong, never letting them get too far away so I could intervene if things went sideways.

That child who hasn’t been nice to your child? Maybe give him a second chance. Maybe something else is going on rather than being a “brat.” Does this child look different? Does he sound different? Chances are that a lot of children with hidden disabilities don’t appear to different from other kids, so they are judged for things they might not be able to control. They are shunned for behaviors that might be different from the norm.

Please, be kind.

A version of this story originally appeared on An Ordinary Mom.

Getty image by Halfpoint