A Letter to the MOTHER who rolled her eyes at my son

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

Sharon

About Sharon

Sharon Fuentes is an award winning humor columnist, parenting guru, public speaker, special needs advocate, co-author of The Don't Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger's and connoisseur of exclamation marks! To book Sharon for a speaking engagement, or just say hello... email her at Sharon@sharonfuentes.com

110 thoughts on “A Letter to the MOTHER who rolled her eyes at my son

  1. WELL SAID!!!

    Hope his foot is doing ok. I think of you guys often. :)

    • Thanks carrie… he is doing great! I am so proud of how hard he is working.

  2. Liz Joyce

    How hurtful. Sometimes people make you shake your head.

    This woman is not making the therapy space a welcoming space for your child.

    As such, I might ask for a private word with the therapist and see if there is any requirement in their mission statement that the facility needs to be a place of respect for everyone using it. Then it would be the responsibility of the facility to make sure your child is not facing hostility and disrespect.

    Of course, it all depends on your comfort level, and how long you will have to co-exist with this person.

    I feel bad about the life lessons the girl is learning.

    • Besides this woman, everyone there as been wonderful. The therapist could not be any more patient and sweet with him. So for now I won’t say anything. Their are nasty people in teh world… fact of life. All the other people in there getting therapy find my boy charming. They laugh at the crazy things that come out of his mouth and encourage him on… so we I won’t say anything right now.

  3. Kudos to you for taking the high road, when part of you wants to just scream at that thoughtless woman.

    It’s hard to tell what’s going on in other people’s heads, so we just have to keep moving forward, just like you are. Good job!

    • Thanks Flannery!Part me wanted to not just scream… I wanted to throttle her! But what would that accomplish? Nadda! And it would make my boy feel bad and that is the last thing I ever would want.

  4. Kass

    I have not done this personally, but I know parents with kids on the spectrum that have made up autism business cards and handed them to people who give them the side-eye. It’s hard for me to be sure how much it is my place to directly educate rude people, though. Maybe the mom you describe will somehow find this post!

    • One can only hope that she would one day find this post! SIGH

  5. Amanda

    I have a friend that has a lil boy that’s got autism and I find him to be the most sweatest, generous lil boy. Hes so polite. Pol needs to think before they act or judge. There child could of been born with special needs to. They need to think of how they would of treated there own child if there baby was Like yours.

    • And Amanda my boy is extraordinary! It is sad when people cannot see it! SIGH!

      • BillyJane

        EVERYONE can see that he is extra-extra-ordinary. Its just scary to admit that we could be wrong. You know that that child, beautiful and perfect, IS your muse. And because you know, he is now my muse too. Thank you Sharon, for being strong and honest. I wish for the same thing as you…
        As I look to the moon, beautiful and bright
        I know that youre making the same wish tonight…….. The strength you seek, You already have. Your child is amazing!! (Because of you!)
        God bless.

  6. paul kussner

    wonderful article proud of you love ya all dad

  7. You are a good person. Really good. I’m sorry about that woman and her daughter. I get this. Love to you and your boy.

  8. Very well said and well done for not blowing up in class :)
    Sounds like he is doing amazingly well and you should be very proud x

    • So very proud of BOTH my kids! They are amazing people!

  9. Amanda

    Wow. Coming from a mother of a HFA child, I feel your pain and frustration. Picking your battles is something we have to do everyday. It’s not just with other adults but with other children as well. We as mothers (parents) become so protective of our children that it takes a lot of energy to stay quiet and not respond to others immature actions. Your right. A child responds to others the way they see their parents respond. Teach your child kindness and they shall give that in return.
    Your doing exactly what I would be doing. Picking my battles. And this one wouldn’t be worth my time or energy. Because even though she rolls her eyes, she is showing that she is closed off the the many different kinds of people we have in this world. God did not give her a very special child for this reason. He gave them to is who will love and care for them and others with all our heart.

  10. Janelle

    Very Fabulously written.. I have a son with ASD and it definately is heart breaking to see. Especially when you know that children with ASD don’t usually make eye contact or go say hi to other children.. Be proud that he is the one with the diagnosis and there are reasons for his actions. The only reason for the mother and daughter’s actions are rudeness, ignorance and learned behavior. Great example!!!!
    Thanks for the article. I am one of many mothers that feels your pain…

    • I knew my village here would get this. I just didn’t realize how much so!

  11. This goes on every day in a million different places. Had a little girl in a packed store YELL look at that boy – he’s a freak because his head is so big. I was not 3 feet from them & stood to make eye contact with the mother who did nothing. This of course caused a lot of shoppers to walk over & stare at my son. I prayed to God that they were not near us checking out which they were. As we left the store I stopped & looked her mother in the eye & told her “I have no problem with your daughter because she learned this at home.” Chris said bye & waved at them as we were leaving. It amazes me the world we live in today.

    • Oh Jennifer how my heart goes out to you! It is the mother that is to blame. I seriously don’t understand how people can be like that! It’s just wrong.

      • JennieDO

        People dont understand why they make mean choices. But your elegance gives me hope that makes THOSE PEOPLE jealous. Keep up the hope, faith, perserverance,love….It takes one person to turn a million. And you are that person in my eyes. Thank you.

        • YOu all are making me cry like a baby with your sweet sweet words! thank you

  12. L.Z.

    I truly empathize. My own mother told my son he he had to go outside to flap his fingers because it was annoying her. He didn’t say anything then, but I know there is a tiny crack in his heart that will pain him later about that – he remembers everything he ever hears, even if he doesn’t respond at the time. I have had to do what so many other brave mamas do, and pick my battles, and carry on in a quiet but persistent public awareness campaign. Don’t want to read a book about what 1 in 54 males around you think like? Don’t worry, I’ll subtly drop a new fact into every conversation. And when it really counts, I will be fearless in defending my son. Keep up the good work. I heard about you from Parenting With Asperger’s Syndrome – will subscribe. :)

    • L.Z. welcome to our village here! I love your dropping of facts into conversations… I find myself doing the same thing! It is hard when it is a stranger but tens time harder if it is a family member! HUGS to you and your boy!

  13. Nichola

    You should print a copy of the letter and hang it up in the waiting room at therapy, lol. Maybe then she will get it!

  14. Kelcey

    My son was born with cmd, so my stepdaughter has always been very
    Overprotective of him. Though I am patient she is a ball of fire. She told me that a boy at her school who is also in a wheelchair but also has some developmental issues sat at there lunch table and said hello really shyly and her friend said something rude to him, rolled her eyes and started to ignore him. When I asked what she did, she said that she got up told the girl how incredibly rude and hateful that was and that she could not be friends with anyone like that and moved down to sit with the boy. She said then 3 of her other friends moved down there to and now they sit with him whenever he eats at the same time they do. I was so proud of her I cried.

    • I’m crying just reading this! Your daughter is an amazing person and it makes me happy to know there is hope for the next generation! :)

  15. Val

    I don’t think I’ve ever shed happy tears and sad tears at the same time. I may not fully understand Autism but I do have a 3 year old with Down syndrome and a 6 year old with ODD so I definitely understand the joy of an appropriate social response. Sounds like someone needs to teach that woman and her daughter some social skills! :)

    • A special needs mom is a special needs mom… doesn’t matter the diagnosis… we all have been there! And yes it is times like that I wish I could drop a social story in her lap smile nicely and say, “Here you go honey. Looks like you can use this.” Maybe that is what we all should do. Come up with a social story for rude grownups!

  16. Joy

    Yes, I have a boy like yours! It was as if you were talking about him. I have had occasions like you have described, but fortunately there are more good occasions or I might have to smack someone. ;) Children must learn acceptance through their parents actions. Hugs to you and your boy.

    • Joy you are so right! My boy (and my NT daughter) bring me so much happiness and yes it does out weigh the crap like this. But the bottom line is that this exists and well… it shouldn’t!

  17. Ugh people like this make me want to scream. It’s called acceptance people and we should all be accepting. I am sure her daughter does something that annoys your son but he is to sweet to roll his eyes or give her a look. That mother should be ashamed of herself but I am sure she is not and instead thinks her line of thinking is ok. News flash lady; IT’S NOT! I am so sorry you and your son had to go through that and next time I would say something. Allowing her to continue rolling her eyes at your son is continuing to allow her to hurt you both so take that power from her. :)

    • Thanks Katie! IT takes all kinds in this world. I seriously want to give this mom the benefit of the doubt… but yeah if I saw it again I am not sure if I will be able to be so gracious. maybe I’ll print out this letter and hand it to her and let her know that over 5,000 people have seen this. Wonder what her face would like then. LOL

      • You should ask her if she blogs or read blogs and give her your url link. I’m not going to say any more because it’s not going to be nice

        • HA! Love it!

        • Mom Mom

          Oh boy! I just had a totally off the wall comment for the mom with rolling eyes. The next time you see her, tell her she should go to the eye doc, they might be able to help her!!!

  18. Allison

    Hi. I personally do not know you but, just read your letter and wanted to tell you what a good person you are. I commend you. As a mom of a 27 weeker with delays (she just turned 4 saturday) I am not too sure I would have just sat there… reading your story makes me realize that is the better road to take. I had a just turned 5 year old tell me that my daughter was weird and she didn’t speak very well… It took everything I had to remember this was a 5 year old I was dealing with and I simply told her that she was 3 not too long ago and I am sure she didn’t speak very well either and that it was not nice to tell me that my daughter was weird… and that it was not nice to say anyone was weird… she then told me she was joking.. haha.. not funny I said. She quickly got my point. My daughter is not weird either she was simply trying hard to fit in with this little girl and was dancing around. Sigh… this makes me nervous thinking about the school years and me not being there to protect my daughter… this is why we have to instill in them good morals and how to be a true friend. Your letter makes me sad and I can only hope that this mother sees it somehow someday… Perhaps you should print it out and hand it to her?!? Someone needs to show her how rude she is being.

    • Allison thank you for reading this and commenting. It is so hard having a child who is special. We have finally come to the point that when someone is quick to point how different we are we just say THANK YOU! Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary. They usually look at us funny but shut up quickly! But even though I am all hard on the outside… inside a little bit of me falls apart. My boy enters middle school next year and believe me I am scared to death about that. But I have to have faith in my boy and in the school and in the friends that he has chosen. And yes he has made some really good friends that I believe would stand up for him. One day at a time though. Thanks for reading and I hope you will stick around. We all can learn a lot from each other.

    • Allison, As the director of the preschool for the school district, I would encourage you to enroll your daughter in the special needs preschool. My teachers’ and paraprofessionals’ goals were to get their children as ready for kindergarten (regardless of which program) as they possibly could by taking them to the next step on a daily basis. I learned that the children learned more from each other because each of them has strengths that they could teach others. They also learned how to do things their way rather than just adapt the world around them. Independence was a goal they learned. They could “speak” for themselves and “defend” themselves by the time they entered kindergarten. But, it was oh so neat to see them do it in the most kind and gentle fashion. Most times, their classmates would teach the parents rather than the other way around. Tolerance rather than prejudice. The special needs children learned that they really weren’t so “Special”. The typical children learned that they could be very special. Hopefully you can find this type of environment for your daughter before she enters kindergarten. Best Wishes!

  19. Christina

    Sharon
    I also do not know you I just happen to come across your letter on facebook. I hope this is a letter that continues to find its way to many many more readers. I can not imagine how hard it must be for you not to judge the other women or even respond to her horrible conduct. I have taught and been around exceptional children and adults most of my life and unfortunately I have seen how ignorant people can truely be. I commend you for your strength and honor in making the right choice to teach your son how to treat others. Our children are like sponges and we are the ones they look to the most. It makes me so sad to see parents teaching children judgement and hate. I do not believe that some parents realize the impact that they have on thier childs future behaviors and attitudes. I would just like to say that you sound like a wonderful mother and your son is very blessed to have you as a mom. I am sure that your journey is not an easy one and I know you will continue to have struggles but I pray that you keep the same positive attitude that you have now. This of course is not easy because even if we can overlook all of the other negative things in life we can never overlook someone hurting our children. I pray for your continued strength and I pray for your son’s progress. Wishing you both the best!

    • Thank you so much Christina. When I wrote this well it was basically for me… I needed to vent I needed t let people know that even if I smile on the outside, it still affects me but that I AM CHOOSING to take the higher road. Now… because of wonderful people like you so many people are reading this and honestly I hope they keep sharing it and it does get out as a reminder that what we do does affect our kids just like you said. SO please share it with your friends and ask that they too share and who knows… maybe one day the mom will fall upon it or a different mom who may be just a s guilty of rolling eyes. And maybe just maybe she will think about what she did, and she will sit down and have a conversation with her child. Just maybe!

  20. Patricia

    Wonderful letter. I don’t have a special needs child, but my son is 5 and is learning how to behave in the world with respect. He needs guidance every now and again and reminders to say please, thank you and to be told what is rude and what is right. It appalls me when parents allow their kids to behave badly… My son is not allowed to call my neighbor weird or ugly because she was born with malformed arms, he now understands that she is no different from us, just another person, and tells her hello and how lovely she looks when he sees her. He is not allowed to call overweight kids fat, he has been taught that everyone has feelings and we should not judge people by how they look, that kid could end up his best friend… and he now accepts that we are all shapes and sizes, smiles and just says hello. My friend has an autistic brother who is almost 40, my son comes with me to his care home where there are people of all different abilities and is taught to be friendly and polite regardless… he now will hold my friends brothers hand when we are out for the afternoon. It really takes a village, some patience and a little compassion… it’s too bad there aren’t more villages around. Much love…

    • Patricia thank you for what you are doing with your child. It gives me HOPE! Hope that one day your boy will be there for my boy and he will stand up to a bully that may be treating my boy wrongly because your son knows! So thank you from the bottom of my heart… thank you!

  21. Chrissy

    OMG my heart aches for you. I would have thrown down. Ok maybe not but I’d of been so pissed and hurt for my son. You are a bigger person and I admire that so much!

    • I never said I wasn’t pissed! I was very pissed and still am! I just knew me getting upset and confronting her especially when my boy was already stressed out, well what good would that have done. So instead I cam here and wrote this and hope that you all will share it and that one day one day that mom will see this!

  22. Amy

    Hi Sharon
    this was so well written and struck a chord with me. Just last week I had Carter and Avery ( who was 6 weeks old) in the waiting room at the pediatric dentist. Two girls, about 6 came in th e waiting room, they were twins, who I later learned are both severly autistic. The girls kept coming over and touching Avery’s head and running into Carter and the mom kept apologizing. I was kind, did not roll my eyes but in my head was thinking that she needed to get control. A few minutes later she pulled me aside and explained they both are autistic. I was reminded to not be judgemental and to remember just how much some people are faced with-i spent the rest of the day with that mom on my mind

    • On behalf my my boy, and those twins and their mom… thank you for being kind even when every ounce of your being wanted to pick up your new baby and run i am sure! Thank you!

  23. Dee

    Hmmm, you know I applaud your patience, but with having endured so much ignorance with 3 special needs autistic kiddos, when I notice willful ignorance, I do tend to say something. It’s rare I grant you as I usually miss such cues, too busy containing the spectrum around me. I well verbalized, “I’m sorry his neurological disability is interfering with your reading? Is it a good book?” Maybe, makes me a bitch, but sometimes my journey also involves education.

    • I LOVE THIS!!! I just might have to steal this and THROW her down if she does it again! LOL Thank you for reading and for your comment.

  24. Wow. You are a much more compassionate person than I. I would have stewed and stewed and rolled my eyes at her myself. I love this post–you really reminded me to be careful how I look at others. Just because they are mean and judgmental doesn’t mean I have to be.

    • It aint easy taking the high road…

  25. One day, when I was in the supermarket (blissfully child free), I spotted another mother having an AWFUL time with her son. Maybe others might have passed over the small flick of the wrist as he stimmed, or the end of the sentence from a kids movie he kept repeating over and over under his breath…but I didn’t. After getting awkwardly avoided by the other shoppers – the poor woman was doing battle in the middle of an aisle – she was really, really starting to get to that point of complete shut down. You know that point, where you have used your last emotional defense and you’re microseconds away from sobbing in the grocery store.

    There wasn’t much I could do to help the woman with her son…he was in full blown meltdown…but I introduced myself, gave her a hug and explained (in as few words as possible because I didn’t want to bombard her) that I understood, that I had an autistic son who was a bit older but I could remember the Dark Years post diagnosis because that kind of stuff just STICKS, and that ‘this too shall pass’. She got pretty emotional that someone had stopped to talk to her, I suppose, but thanked me and we parted ways. It was enough.

    This story, then, makes me so angry. There’s not an autistic mother alive today who hasn’t had a ‘passive dismissive’ situation like this one…and it hurts worse, in a lot of cases, than outright verbal attacks – because it indicates that people think your child is nothing, he’s less than nothing, he’s so inconsequential as to be not worth of a hello. And these ignorant people breed other ignorant people (whether genetically or by simple association). Sigh.

    We’re all awesome. And so are our kids. The parents of NT’s forget that victories are much harder won for us sometimes, I think.

    (I came here via Sunday (Adventures in Extreme Parenting)’s FB post and look forward to reading some more :)

    • OMG Karen you said it! YES this type of attack does hurt more! If she was verbal if she said something rude I would have jumped all over her… but this dismissal… well it just cut me to the core. Honestly I think I did not respond because I was shocked.

    • Mom Mom

      Hooray for you and the mom you helped. I have a 10 yr old autistic son, and an 11 yr old with ADHD and a few more things. My husband died from colon cancer 4 yrs ago. There are times when I just do not feel that I have the strength to carry on, but the boys and I pray for strength and we slowly continue our journey. It would be so wonderful if more people would react as you did. If I see a mom having a difficult time and my children are at school, or home…. I ALWAYS OFFER ASSISTANCE. With the numbers of children with ASD growing, it is a shame that not more is being done to educate our society, which would be helpful with on-lookers, as we are dealing with a melt down.

  26. Hugs! Been here before. My son has some issues and all too often I get looked at badly or he does. Sucks.

    • You can say that again! Okay I will… sucks!

  27. amen. thank you. sharing this.

    • WOW… thanks for visiting my blog Jess and for leaving me this comment and sharing! That means a lot to me. I admire you so very much! I want to be you when I grow up! LOL So thanks

  28. Shannon

    I applaud your patience and your attitude. I have seen that kind of behaviour far too often and an alwas disheartened by how much disrespect there is in this world when we are armed with so much knowledge.
    My 9 year old daughter is the constant target of bullies at school and she is now extremely worried about her little brother who just happens to be Autistic and is due to head to Kindergarten this Fall.
    No child should have to feel that way and my sole comfort is the reminder that what goes around comes around…..

    • You are so right no child should feel that way! SIGH! KARMA!!!

    • Mom Mom

      You are right, no child should have to feel that way and also about what goes around comes around….AND one day, as they stand at the gates of Heaven and God remembers their behavior!

  29. I came here by way of Jess @DOAM, Beautifully written and with just enough passive aggressiveness :)
    I have two kiddos, one who is gifted and technically NT but with the gifted side of him it adds a layer that at times is very hard to manage, he melts down full blown over the tiniest things and even recently (he’s 6) he was layed out on the ground in a Panera Bread just sobbing, over something he had complete control but made the wrong choice, I got several looks from the people around me and I just said “he’s fine” and tried to smile and pry him off the ground. I have a daughter who has Speech Apraxia and is almost a year a half behind in her speech, she just turned 3. I’ve had several people make comments about her “ways” of communicating with us and I don’t hold back, I explain the disorder and especially emphasize that she completely understands what is being said to her, basically to get them to understand they better watch what they say. I get this, I think you are brave and I pray she does read this one day and it makes her stop and think about her behavior around her children.
    It seems to me that unless you’re exposed to this life, and these journeys then you just can’t “get it” but the bigger question is, why can’t we just be nicer to everyone?

    • Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth. I think you just asked the $84,000 question… why can’t we all just be nicer to one another! SIGH!

  30. I loved this! It is so true…our children watch our every move. Knowing this, we should all try to treat others with more compassion and understanding…lead by example…which you did magnificently.

    I just read some of your other posts…love this blog. :)

    • Awww… thanks Lisa. I write what I know or in some cases what I have no clue about… especially when it comes to my boy! :) Hope you will stick around.

  31. Elizabeth Duncan

    I’m not as skilled at control as you, I have a hard time even when it’s a kid not yelling at them. I supposed that is because I went through being bullied without anybody there to stand up for me until middle school. Even as an adult I’ve been through the mom bully situation older moms that make more money or whose husbands have money. I’ve had teachers, other school workers and doctors try to bully me into just accepting what they think is best for my kids. It’s taken me a while but I learned to stand up for myself by standing up for my kids. One particular hard time for me to control my temper was when a little girl said “You are so annoying” to My David it took me a minute to remember that she was just a little girl and tell her that he couldn’t help it because of his Autism he likes to repeat things. I hope other people read your letter and think about what they are doing. Luckily the physical things like eye rolling usually go unnoticed by our kids.

    • Go back and read some of my other post… you will see that I am not always so gracious. I wrote a post about how I wanted to BITCH SLAP this one lady who said she was thankful her child was not ONE OF THOSE kids, and she did it in a stage whisper indicating to the special needs pamphlet that was sitting on the table that I was working behind at open house at school. Need I say more. But I have also learned that some times it is not worth the effort. I needed to keep it together to keep my boy together! Bottom line! You would have done the same!

      • Mom Mom

        Uh Oh. The mere fact that she said, “…one of those kids…” qualifies her for BITCH SLAPPING anytime…or how about 40 hrs of community service work with THOSE KIDS! That behavior is just plain rude and unacceptable.

  32. Joyce Shibilia

    I am embarassed and ashamed to say that I USED to be that mother…that is until I was blessed with a beautiful autistic son…I am so sorry for the pain peoples’ ignorance causes! I know how it feels, and I wish I could go back and apologize to those people I hurt with my ignorance. They were just strangers and I knew nothing about them or the challenges they face/d. Now when I get those looks, I understand the ignorance and sometimes even arrogance behind it. You are so right about our actions affecting our children…we are doing so much in the community where I live and in our schools to help educate and raise awareness about autism and special needs children. We don’t need to just accept them, we need to welcome them into our world with open arms…fully acknowledging all that they have to give back, if we give them the chance! Thank you for your letter, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to apologize to you for what I have done to others.

    • Joyce you just made me cry! The older I get the more I am realizing… unfortunately, that we are the minority not the majority. The problem is the world is that it is full of the other mothers. But where you differ is that you are willing to admit it and change it. That is what makes you a wonderful mother and especially of an autistic child. We want the world to accept our kids the way we are… well guess what, we have to accept each other and ourselves too! Flaws and all! Hugs to you!

  33. Daily Woman

    Great letter, I can so relate to this. When we are at therapy with my son there are a few parents in there that react like that to my son. I dont know why, you would think at therapy there would be parents that do not judge and that understand since I would expect they are there for a reason.
    I think you are right not to waste your energy on this woman, I believe in karma so she will get hers.

  34. Lisa

    I could just feel your pride when your boy said hello. Those little moments that make our day. So sorry you had to deal with someone like her. :(

    • I am ALWAYS proud of both my kids! Thank you though for your nice words.

  35. Julie G

    I had a very hard time holding back tears while reading this article!! I think most if not all of us Autism parents have had to tolerate the looks from the look and impatience of others who just don’t get it. This story hit hard…I remember being the ignorant one, wondering why that Mom was just letting her child raise hell and do nothing about it. Apparently God felt he needed to answer my queries with a living breathing little boy who teaches me patience, live, and understanding everyday in so many different ways!! It eats at me everyday that I used to have such mean thoughts towards Moms whose hearts were so full that it had overflowed into their hands and were just being challenged with holding all the blessings and the little guy streaking through Walmart in his underwear on a beeline to the potato chips!! I have learned so much in the last 8 years and cannot even imagine what he plans to teach me in the future!! Thank you for your touching and incredibly true words!!

    • YOu just got me all teary eyed! :)

  36. Chris

    Great post, Sharon! Jay sounds like a ton a fun and it’s sad how ignorant and sour people can be sometimes — she’s probably missing out on a lot.

    We have a spunky little boy (7) who’s in a wheelchair who gets a lot of “lookers” as we call them. He doesn’t notice, but I often catch them (adults, mind you) in their puzzled trance unable to pull away their gaze from my son’s awesomeness. I usually linger a bit until I can catch their eye so I can get that “caughtyalookin!” moment. Sometimes I gotta do a little hand wave to break the tractor beam or give em’ a “hey, what’s up? he gotta booger hanging?” Just enough to get them to look up and catch me smiling at them. Something pretty satisfying at that moment when they turn red knowing they got busted.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Hope it goes viral!

    • Thanks Cris. JAY is a ton of fun! Keep spreading the letter and it will go viral. Over 20,000 views already! :)

  37. Kris

    I have been blessed to have my life touched by a handful of Autistic children. They can be some of the most loving, and accepting children we will ever meet, and anyone person (let alone mother) that doesn’t understand and recognize is seriously setting not only herself up for failure, but also her children. Ignorance and snootiness are two extreme character flaws, and she is the person that has to live with those daemons. When I saw the link to your letter, I was extremely curious, and now I feel blessed to have read it. If I were in your position I wouldn’t have been so kind, I would have given the woman a piece of mind. You are extremely brave and bold by doing the right thing, and you (unlike the mother who rolled her eyes) are leading by a good example for your beautiful son. Keep smiling, and always be an advocate for autism awareness!!! <3

  38. My personal favourite (hardly passively dismissive but my god…) was the time I was just beginning to tell people Eldest was autistic and one VERY ignorant person flippantly said “Well at least he’ll be able to add up really, really fast – you know, like Rainman!”

    If there’s one thing that makes me see red it’s people bringing up Rainman.

    That time, I gave her a sternly worded mini-lecture about the differences between ASDs with, and ASDs *without* savantism (ie, a very large chunk of savants are on the spectrum, but not all spectrum kids are savants). So yeah, if that woman at PT had muttered “rainman” under hear breath while she rolled her eyes I probably would have decked her, LOL. As it was, I think I left the woman in my example a bit shell-shocked. AS IT SHOULD BE!

    Oh, and my other personal fave? “Oh, Einstein/Bill Gates/Richard Branson/Famous Quirky Celebrity Of Choice was on the spectrum!” Like that matters in my example how exactly? LOL.

    • I get irked when they say, “WOW HE DOESN”T LOOK AUTISTIC” That just pisses me off! I guess they expect for him to look like RAINMAN!

  39. I read, I cried, and then I stood up and applauded. I’m sharing this on my own blog and on my facebook.

  40. Adrienne

    Thank you! This is a beautiful letter and it is more than inspiring. You see I raise my children to treat everyone with respect and they do a pretty good job of it. For the most part they don’t even notice that some people are differently abled. However, I have quite the fuse and a situation like that would have set me off. I love that you were completely non judgmental (like I want my kids to behave) and realized that exploding would have neither solved nor helped the situation. Your letter makes me want to be like that. I thought I was pretty non judgmental but I can be and I now want to be more like you. Every day I will think of this letter and strive to be a better person because of you. Thank you so much and I hope you and your family are doing well. You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Thank you and PLEASE keep raising your babies the way you are!

  41. Kathi

    My Special son will graduate high school this month! While at a McDonalds play area many years ago, my 5 yr old son was playing in the balls and tossing them at/to his younger sister. An older gentleman ( I use that term loosely) started yelling “whose kid is that. He has no business being in there with the other normal kids” . To this day I still feel the heart ache as my son looked at me thinking he was in the wrong. I was stunned speachless and sat there with tears in my I assuring my son he did nothing wrong. I probably should of handled it better but by the time we were leaving I was so angry/ sad/humiliated that I said to the man that my son did nothing wrong and I felt sorry for his granddaughter. We where leaving so it was over for us but she would have to live with his ignorance the rest of his life. I told him he was setting a great example for her and walked away. While I am not proud of myself, I would like to think he changed his attitude just a little. Of course that was not the last ignorant person we have delt with and the pain in my heart is just as bad every time, but now I don’t always feel the need to strangle that person. God Bless.

  42. Wattle

    I can’t believe the eye roll however am not surprised at young girls that age that use it against each other quite liberally – it makes me shrink each time I see it and be thankful I have boys! It hurts when it is used against your own child and for me it was a teacher that did it to me when I explained that my son WAS smart and could learn and she rolled her eyes and walked away. In my case I was so gobsmacked that I couldn’t move!

    In your case, it’s the reaction of the mother that is the sad thing over and above the child because sometimes the child does not understand and it is up to the parent to step up and obviously in this case she was doing it herself and probably commenting on the way home at other times.
    I have a comment though and please don’t think I’m trying to minimise what the girl did as the mother obviously acted the same but we have to be aware that sometimes the child doing the hurting may be one of ours who doesn’t understand.

    If I can just describe a couple of situations that have occurred recently – my 10year old ASD son has just started realising that people look different and at the same time we have been working on adjectives and my mortification flew through the roof when a large fellow walked out of a lift as we walked in and my child who used to never speak came out with a loud and clear “You are fat”. I almost climbed over the man to get to my son and explain that he mustn’t say that as it would make the man sad. Since we don’t talk like that at home and this happened as the new series of The Biggest Loser was just starting, I think that was where he had heard it – needless to say, he hasn’t said it since he was told that it would make the other person sad.
    Then the other day he saw a dear therapist that has had nerve damage to her face after an operation and he just started laughing at her (straight in her face) because her speech sounds different to what it used to and she looks different and again I was extremely upset and mortified – aghast that he would do that because that is not what we do as a family – we just don’t do anything like that given that we are well aware of the stares that we get from his behaviour at times. Anyway, the 40 minute drive home was filled with how he mustn’t laugh or comment if that is going to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t know if I have covered all the situations to save him from hurting someone’s feelings but I am trying. I think as he becomes more aware of others hopefully he will understand. Today was a case in point where his teacher who he adores asked him if he liked her new dress and he wouldn’t look at her and she was surprised at his reaction and finally she managed to get it out of him that he didn’t like it. I explained that I think that he just didn’t want to say anything or look at her, I believe, in case he said something that would make her sad. It doesn’t sound like that is the case for your situation but it pays to keep it in mind.

    • My son has done the same thing. he is honest to a fault! The difference is you and I both went out our way to correct our kids when they do it, to let him know that could hurt others feelings. That is why I said in the letter that I did not blame the girl… I blame the mother. This girl was all chatty and texting on her phone and well.. she, like her mother, could not be bothered with my boy. And that in itself is fine. I mean I am teaching my both my children that not everyone is going to be our friend. But I believe in human decency and respect and well… dismissing people … any person, is just not right. My hurt also came because we all know how hard it is for our kids to initiate conversations. Sigh

  43. Rebecca Courtright

    Letters like these are why people read this blog. I am so proud to know you Sharon!

    Rebecca

  44. Amanda

    Ok I just had to respond to this. I hate that your son has had to go through that. My son has Aspergers and I know how hard it is for them to make friends and to reach out to others. I have seen my boy struggle with school and public situations since he was very tiny. Unlike you my sister in law didnt take the high road when someone got rude with her as she watched after my son. They were at the splash pad playing and I had warned her that you cant just tell him lets go. You have to give him at least a 10 minute notice so he can adjust and make sure he looks you in the eye when you talk to him or else he wont even register that you spoke. She called him over and he would not look her in the eye. She gently took his chin and pointed his face to her and then told him “your uncle will be here in 10 minutes so we need to start getting ready to go”. Another woman there stated “WOW! that was just mean.” To which my sis in law told her “He has aspergers. If he doesnt look at you he doesnt comprehend. If you think you know a better way to handle this then I suggest you speak up. If not keep your mouth shut.” The woman then apologized and said “I didnt know” and my sis told her “thats right you didnt so maybe next time you will think before you speak”. I admire her to this day for that! I dont know that I would have spoken up. I would have probably turned the other cheek and walked away. But not her she educated the woman really quick.

  45. Denise

    Wow. Just finished reading and got choked up. I had to reach over to my hfa son give him a hug and kiss and tell him again how much I love him and how proud I am of him everyday. We can’t protect them from jerks like the kid and her mom, but we can show them how they are loved and accepted unconditionally and that that is what matters more.
    Thank you for sharing and for showing what a wonderfull village of support we have!

  46. Wow! I see that there is a lively discussion going on here. This is a very moving article about a very important topic, about welcoming people with autism in our communities and how one mom responded when her son was not welcomed. As hard as it is for parenrs with ASD children today to deal with the attitudes of the outside world who often can’t/won’t bother to educate themselves about autism, imagine what parents, 40 to 50 years ago (and before that) went through in dealing with society’s attitudes and the ASD DSM-4 diagnosis dis not even exist. My mom went through this very often when the world so often reacted unkindly to me, her daughter. Many, many parents, from the past until today, endure society’s bad attitudes and refusal to learn about autism. My daughter is diagnosed with an ASD and she is a wonderful girl and we have not gotten one complaint from her teachers about her exhiliting negative behaviors. Many parents of typical kids cannot clain this! I know of kids with no labels who act up and are bratty! Autism is still so poorly understood and much research needs to be done, but in the meantime, we have to work tirelessly to create a more welcoming world for autistic people of all ages.

    • Well said Lisa well said!!

  47. Jacqueline

    My friend posted the link – Hugs – having a child with SPD and experiencing the rolling eyes – I totally get the anger and frustration.

    Glad your son is doing well and the therapists are working well with him – take care – HUGZ.

    • Thanks for stopping by Jacqueline. It amazes how this post is still making it way around and that so many people can unfortunately relate to it! SIGH! We have so far to go to be a world that is filled with compassion!

  48. Mom Mom

    What an awesome response for the “Mom with the rolling eyes.” If her life is so small that she has to resort to doing something so juvenile to a special needs child, I truly pity her. It is truly amazing that the number of kids being diagnosed with autism & our schools are not including social skills in IEP’s. Don’t know about you all, but IEP meetings at our school for are anything but a team approach…it is straight out of the style of Hitler, MY WAY OR THE HIWAY. And if you question the system or request something that they feel to be unnecessary, you will likelyt find yourself at the receiving end of an investigation by Div of Family Services, with some ludicrous allegations. The real icing on the cake came when the asst superintendent, who was also the director of transportation, called me at home and told me, “YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A TROUBLE MAKER.” This was his response because I was advocating for my autistic son. And then, he lied, to the investigators from Office of Civil Rights for Education, by saying that he did not recall saying that, when I filed a complaint with the Fed Dept of Ed. So he got away with it.
    When my son aged out of a pilot program through our state, for ABA, and the school no longer wanted to pay implementers for this therapy that has been the most helpful for my son. I questioned the person in charge of special needs services about their decision. Her comment to me was, “ABA is not effective in children over the age of eight!” (I bet it would be very effective if she had a child with autism that needed ABA!) And for the record, the Dept of Elem and Secondary Ed specifically theSupervisor of the division regarding special needs children, stated that ABA was good for children with many types of learning issues, not just autismm, and that it was quite effective for children over 8. Our Superintendent said that she did not know what she was talking about! WOW!!
    I am totally wide open to suggestions of how to deal with this district. HELP PLEASE!!!

  49. Renee

    This was so well said and it helps you as the mom not to hold it in until you bust I will too try to do this Thank you! I am an in your face mom but sometimes it’s not needed to the extreme and I do pray this lady see this post or hears of it to she can learn from it! You are a fantastic Mom and I continue to improve everyday so my kids will turn out to be the grown adults with compassion!

    • Sorry to just get back to this but thank you for commenting. I too pray that both my kids grow up to be compassionate adults!

  50. Jody

    I have got to say something to this. My parents were the ones that rolled their eyes and tried keeping us away from special needs people. How ever, I have ALWAYS had a huge soft spot for them. dont know how or why but it was always there none the less. When I was 24 yrs old I kicked my x husband out and started working for a company working with special needs. 11 years later, I still work with special needs. When I started that job 11 yrs ago my dad asked me why? U could make so much more $ working in a hospital. Probably could! I told him. My mom said oh, jody- those “people” need to be drugged and in a hospital so we dont have to see or deal them. U have NO IDEA how bad I had to hold back to keep from slapping the hell out of my own MOTHER!! I am pretty much married to my job! Its so not a source of income. ANYONE who works in this field knows flipping burgers at mcdonalds will get u further ahead in life than this job! But I cant do it, I have tried working in other fields over the years but I ALWAYS COME BACK!! This is why God made me, I JUST KNOW THIS. I was put on this earth to improve special needs lives,,,,even if its just for a short span of time. When my kids get older I have every intention on adopting a special needs child. I have devoted my entire life to this community of people. So I can NOT and will NOT accept that the way we raise our kids is the way they turn out. If that were the case Id be flipping burgers or something. My parents are still against what I do for a living. All because to them, its not much of a “living” but u know what?!?!? IT IS ONE HELL OF A LIFE!!!!! And *that* I cant buy or sell…WOULDNT EVEN IF I COULD.

    • Thank God for people like you Jody! Keep doing what you do!

  51. Katherine

    Oh my i have seen this happen before to the kids at school and it makes me so mad this is so hurtful

  52. Rica

    I am completely speechless. Well said. I’m sorry that you have to expirience that. But, I adore you and have the upmost respect for you not only because you have the courage to hold back as you pick your battles but the fact that you you manage to stay strong for your child. He is all that matters in life. Thank you for this letter. Not everyone knows what others goes through but yet, it’s easy for them to judge as if it’s just nothing.

  53. My son shares the same challenges as yours. I remember in the pediatrician’s years ago – during “the terrible twos,” – my son was starting to have a tantrum. We were in an unfamiliar place. The doctor was behind schedule so we had to wait a long time. There was a full waiting room with lots of stimuli, noise, bright lights, et al. My son was and is very large for his size. At age 2, he looked like a 4 year old. VERY tall.

    He was crying and throwing himself on the floor. Anyone who has been through this knows you CAN’T just scoop them up and whisk them outside or make it stop.

    Two ladies were glaring at me. I gestured to the TV in the corner that was blaring Sponge Bob or Dora and said, “Want me to turn it to CNN so YOU’LL have something to watch?!” They both quickly looked away and no matter what happened after that , they did not look back at me or my son.

    I took pleasure in that for the rest of the day. f**k them! But? One of the ladies is pretty distinctive looking and I found her working at a store I frequent, a store near my house, a store that’s hard to avoid going to. The pleasure turned into embarrassment on many levels.

    I’ve moved on from that, knowing that where I was that day is not where I am today. I have challenges, but am more equipped to handle them.

    I really wish I had this blog to read back then. I had a lot to learn about not judging others. And I remember how judgmental I had been prior to having kids. I had no idea. “My child’s never gonna do that,” I’d think scowling with arms folded at some miscreant and his mother. Yeah. To all who say “My child’s never gonna do that,” Good luck. And remember that fate, kharma, God, whatever has some peculiar teaching methods.

  54. Although I am not that kind of mother and hope I have raised my children to be compashionate to others and their differences I admire your strength. Its hard to be quiet sometime when we see others judge our children. I have a son that is bipolar and have been through many struggles and often judged that it is myself to blame for things he says or does. People dont understand when he looks normal but acts different. I have learned not to judge and be the bigger person. He is a blessing to my family and the good outweighs the bad.

  55. Dawn

    We love Jay!!!! And we love you :) I’m so sorry for that experience… for those moments of hurt. But so, so proud and grateful for your perspective. Jay is amazing because so are you. My oldest son (10-1/2) and my daughter (7) both have Aspergers and my youngest son (4) was diagnosed earlier this year with PDD-NOS. I get it… we get it. And we love your stories and inspiration… thank you! xo

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