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To the Family in the Waiting Room Who Accepted My Son With Autism

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To the family in the waiting room,

Today my little man Brayden, who has autism, continually invaded your personal space, said “excuse me” approximately 10,485 times, and played out some of his favorite YouTube videos live and in living color for you. I find those things some of Brayden’s most endearing qualities. In the past, however, most people have been friendly enough at first, but have eventually ignored him or looked annoyed and I usually have to divert his attention elsewhere.

But today was different. Today was special. Today meant the world to me and you’ll probably never know. You and the young girls with you all interacted with my son. You never flinched when he invaded your personal space or put his hands on you without warning. You never looked annoyed and you never ignored him. Something you said to me made me realize you knew my little guy is “different,” yet you said it subtly enough that you didn’t “out” his differences to the rest of the waiting room. You and your girls played along with all the orders he gave while he was acting out his YouTube videos. None of you made me feel that he was in any way bothering you. You gave him your time. You gave him your patience. He even called one of you “friend.”

Now here’s what you gave me: a restored faith in humanity and a sense of relief. I did not have to constantly pull him away from you. I didn’t have to sit on the edge of my seat. I didn’t have to apologize or explain anything to you; that in itself is worth more to me than you will ever know.

My son is fun-loving, energetic, beautiful, intelligent, silly, sweet, and has an amazing imagination. You and your family saw all of that today, and embraced it. You didn’t see his repetitiveness and his lack of spatial awareness as a problem. The looks on your faces showed love. Your body language spoke volumes. You were relaxed, smiled often, took time out of what you were doing together to involve him (and even let him run the show), and complimented him on his intelligence.

I cannot begin to express enough gratitude for your sincerity today. He may not have seen it, but I did. All he knew was that he made several new friends today — and so did I. All I could muster up to say to you before you left was a simple, “Thank you,” but I wish I could’ve said so much more. Thank you just isn’t enough. Thank you for the love you showed not just my son today, but also to me because of your kindness to him. Thank you for showing me that I don’t always owe the world an explanation, and that I never need to apologize for anything. Thank you for welcoming my child to be your friend today.

I pray you reap what you have sown and are blessed for your kindness. The world would be a better place if there were more people like you in it. I only wish you could see this, so you would know you made my day today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Originally published: September 28, 2016
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