Last week, I attended a high school play in our community. It was the high school from where we used to live and was almost where my kids attended. They were performing "Once Upon a Mattress" which is such a fun and cute play! I was very excited to attend.
Part way through the play, as we were introduced to Dauntless, the main character who is also a big momma's boy. I noticed that the boy was playing the part as though he had autism. He flapped his hands, spun in circles, skipped on stage and missed every high five he tried to give. He spoke with a lisp and just acted like something was wrong with him. It was appalling.
The next day, I called the school, to talk to the administration. I wasn't sure if they had seen the play and I thought they should be aware. I spoke with the assistant principal and he had seen the play, was defensive of the boy's interpretation and told me I was being too sensitive.
The saddest part of my whole experience with this is that it taught me how far our society has to go to accepting my child and all the others who seem a bit different in our world. It is seen as something to make fun of rather than to embrace. And even if this had not been the intention of the boy playing the part (which I truly do believe he wasn't intentionally being offensive), it could have been handled better when I called. And if a teenager is going to not see how offensive it is, where were the adults in all of this? I told the administrator that this could be a great educational opportunity for these kids, but he did not see it in the same way. It made me very sad.
I can't change everyone's perception and actions and words and attitudes, but I can share our story. I can tell people about my beautiful boy who does odd things in public but has a heart of gold! He can throw some pretty crazy tantrums when we're out and about, but it isn't because he is spoiled. He bangs his head when he gets upset, he covers his ears when noises are too loud, his speech is very delayed and would be easy to mimic or point at. He hates socks and wears shoes that are more comfortable than fashionable. He chews on this shirts which puts holes in them.
BUT, he gives the most fantastic hugs. He loves to have his picture taken and will pose on the drop of a dime. He loves everyone he meets and always has a smile ready. He works so hard, harder than anyone I've ever met to just communicate a simple question. He loves everything Angry Birds. And I love him with all my heart. It is my greatest desire that the world can see past his oddities and love him too.
See him smiling (the one in the green shirt!) Isn't he a doll?
And it isn't just him or because I am his mom. I love all the kids he goes to school with! I know some of the most amazing kids on this planet--and some of them have autism! They are bright and sweet and full of love (even when they can't show it like we expect them too).
And for anyone reading this, who is also on the journey of Autism, I send you a high five! It isn't easy and it can be a ton of work, but isn't it an amazing experience too?
So light it blue for Autism as we all try to do our part to bring awareness and acceptance!
Here is today's freebie:
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