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To the Classmate Who Taunted a Fellow Student With Autism

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There is this student at my school who is a part of the West Lakes Special Education Program. He’s a wonderful boy, and one of my closest friends. When you see him, you see kindness, love, compassion and creativity. You do not see his Autism.

students with special needs smiling

But, apparently, some kids at my school don’t see Robbie the way I do – the way everyone should.

One morning, just recently, I was walking to my first period class and there was a group of senior boys in front of me, presumably on their way to their first period as well. Robbie was down the hall behind all of us, walking to help take things to the office, when he started speaking.

His voice is loud, but not obnoxious. He’s a tall boy, but he’s not fearfully large. He’s a fantastically smart boy, and I don’t understand why people say the things they do…

Robbie was walking down the hall, saying, “I want my mommy to put a sticker in my book, not my grandma.” Then I heard something I will hardly soon forget. A student in front of me tried to be funny and imitated Robbie in a snarky voice. The friends that surrounded this guy started chuckling and smirking while making more rude comments.

This broke my heart.

Do these kids know that the words they speak can still be heard? Do they know that he hears and feels the emotions of what they say? It hurts me to know that people can be so ignorant. Just because they are not just like Robbie does not mean that Robbie is a bad kid, or deserves to be treated the way they treated him.

I’m younger than the senior boys in front of me, but I know that what they did was wrong, and they need to know that too. I wanted to speak up. I wanted to so bad, but every time I tried to move my lips, nothing but silence came out.

Finally, I piped up. “Do you know who you just made fun of? Do you find it funny? It’s not. I suggest that unless you’d like others doing that to you if you were different, that you don’t do it again.”

I was red with anger as I walked the rest of the way to my first period. I sat down at the desk, and I buried my face in my sweatshirt so nobody would see my tears of anger.

I knew that even if Robbie heard the comments, it would not have lowered his spirits. He’s so cheerful. He brings the biggest smile to my face when he comes into my classes to visit, or when I see him walking so proudly through the halls to his locker.

He truly has been able to put a smile on my face every day since I have known him. And that’s something that is amazing, as not many people can do it.

puzzle piece graph with text 'accept, understand, and love autism'

So, to the kid who had the audacity to pick on Robbie, think again and think hard. Do not do something so childish and rude again to my friend Robbie.

I think we can all learn from the ignorant boy in my school commons. The lesson is don’t speak without thinking, and don’t judge without knowing. Everyone is fighting their own battles, they don’t need you to fight their fire with your own.

Keep your rude comments to yourself, or better yet, don’t say them at all.

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Originally published: April 17, 2015
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