Dear Other Mother at Physical Therapy,
For the past three days I have watched you roll your eyes at my son. I can see your annoyance with him when he gets loud and interrupts your quiet making it hard for you to read your book. I saw your anger when he accidentally bumped into you and just kept going instead of stopping to say he was sorry. I hear the hostility in your voice as you yell for the technicians to pay attention to your daughter and stop giving my boy extra attention. And for three days I have said nothing.
I said nothing because you see I empathize with you. Who knows what has brought you to this place, but something happened that made your daughter hurt her leg. That incident may play over and over in your head and keep you up at night and of course make you irritable. Or maybe your daughter is the one waking up at night in pain from her hurt leg. How that must hurt you to see your child in pain… I know that hurt.
I said nothing because if there is one thing this journey I am on has taught me, it is to NOT JUDGE others. We do not know what others are really going through and for this reason I let it slide. BUT then it happened…
It happened as my boy was doing his exercises. To others it may have seemed like an easy task they asked him to do, but for my boy walking around on his heels was anything but easy. Not only did this exercise cause him physical pain from the actual spot that they cut into his foot, it was a different sensation and his neurological system that is wired so different from ours was definitely thrown out of whack. I watched my boy’s face turn red and a rash break out on his forehead the way it always does when he is stressed. He was flapping his arms and doing whatever he could do to try to regulate himself. And then out of nowhere he stopped in front of your daughter.
I watched my boy make direct eye contact with her and without being prompted he said hello. I beamed with pride. But then it happened…
SHE ROLLED HER EYES and looked away from him.
My heart broke.
Thankfully my boy did not notice, he just kept on doing his exercise but I noticed… and so did you because I saw you watching your daughter as she did it. And you said nothing! You did not prompt her to be polite and say hello back, you let her dismiss my boy.
I do not blame your daughter’s total disrespect for another human being. You see she was only doing what she saw. For three days as she sat back doing her own exercises she watched you roll your eyes and get annoyed with him. She watched your lack of empathy and compassion. Of course this is how she would react.
I write this letter because you see I cannot afford to make a big deal out of this. I have to pick and choose my battles and you dear mother… even though it saddens me… you are not a battle I choose to fight.
I will write this letter and hope that some other mothers out there will read it and think about it and perhaps the next time they feel like rolling their eyes when they see a boy like mine… perhaps they will remember this. Perhaps they will stop and think about who is around them watching the way they are acting. And perhaps they will remember the golden rule and at least encourage their child to politely say hello back to my boy!
And when I see you and your daughter tonight or tomorrow or the next day at therapy, I will continue to be nice and encourage my boy to be the same. I will not judge you even though it would be easy to do. I will accept that we are just… DIFFERENT, and pray that one day you will be able to do the same.
Signed, The Mother of the Autistic Boy