I've read too many articles lately about poor treatment of our children on the spectrum to not address this issue. First, there was the young student who was "voted" out of his class by his teacher and peers. Next, there was the parent who was kicked off an American Airlines flight with her ASD toddler. Then, today, I read about a member here on Foggyrock whose family was asked to leave a restaurant because another table of patrons was unhappy with a few minutes of very understandable discontent from her autistic daughter. It is enough to make a special needs parent afraid to leave home......
It has also made me reflect with genuine gratefulness on the many, many outings and excursions with my ASD son that could have been disastrous, but were successful and memorable because of the kindness and acceptance of those around us. I remember the flight attendant who allowed my son and I to stand in the back of the plane most of the flight because it was more comfortable for Wynn and less disturbing to the passengers seated around us. There was the security guard at the mall who watched from a distance as my son had a major meltdown and then nodded and went on his way once he read my son's Unlocking Autism t-shirt. Most recently, there was the check-out gal at Walmart who didn't mind when my son held tightly to his bag of frozen fruit and laughed out loud when he called her weird. It is folks like that who allow me to experience joy in those experiences instead of embarrassment and shame. Because they can extend acceptance and grace, my son can participate in a world that is equally his.
And so, with the good Southern manners that my mama instilled, I have decided to begin a Thank You campaign. Each and every time Wynn and I have a successful encounter or visit with a kind and helpful person or business, I'm going to send a thank you note to demonstrate our gratitude. I want my community to realize the impact that their attitude and behavior have on my son and my family. I want to affirm what is good in hopes of preventing the negative actions that seem to have become daily news features.
If you think this is a good idea, I would encourage you to do the same. I'd love to hear of your experiences and your responses as well. Our children have so much to offer, but if we are not pro-active in our efforts, the negative reactions of the uninformed and ignorant could be the only message that gets heard.
For a sample of my very first Thank You note, see:
Sincerely and Gratefully,
And if you have not set up an account on FoggyRock yet, give it a try.