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To the Boy at the Amusement Park Who Pretended to Be Autistic

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You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I was at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, on June 7. My three friends and I stood in line the new ride, The Valravn. A nice teacher from Columbus and her boyfriend stood in front of me, and you and your two friends waited behind me. The line for this ride was three hours long and by far the longest three hours of my life.

You and your friends were messing around, as teenagers do, trying to be funny but really just being immature. Then you drew the line.

You laughed and said, “I’m autistic and retarded!” Your friends laughed. I wanted to get out of line.

I have friends with disabilities and a lot on the spectrum. They go through daily struggles, and they accomplish so much. I have seen some have to fight for their lives. I tried explaining to you how that isn’t something to joke about. You stood there and laughed.

I don’t hate anything in life except the second word you chose to use. The R-word is a derogatory term and should never be used. It makes me cringe to think about. People like you need to be educated on why that word is not OK. It is offensive to me, to people with disabilities and to their friends and family.

For you, I was probably just another face you were trying to annoy, but for me, that day was another realization this world still needs education. And it doesn’t matter what age you are. 

I will probably never see you again, but if this spreads to you please think about what you say before you say it and how your words and actions can affect others. Your words and actions do matter.

One day I hope everyone can find love and acceptance. One day I hope all people with disabilities will be looked at like people — because they are people.

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. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 13, 2016
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