People aren’t always kind to a person with special needs. Having gentleness is a reflection of being loved. It’s hard to know how to respond when someone is rude to people with special needs. But this story shows how we can treat those who are not always kind.
I used to be unkind…to the bully.
My mouth could string out mean words the length of the Dairy Queen drive-through line on a hot summer day. Especially, if someone was trying to put down a person with special needs. I didn’t have an ounce of compassion or grace for these unkind people.
But I have learned; hurting people – hurt people.
Not everyone has had the incredible blessing of raising a child with special needs like I have. My son Kyle is twenty-eight and has autism.
*Yes, this picture is filtered, Kyle had rice on his bottom lip 🙂
There’s no room for meanness when you live with someone as sweet as Kyle. He gives an abundance of grace and love, every day, to his family and caregivers. You can’t help but feel a little taller after being in Kyle’s presence.
I was watching the show “What Would You Do?” a couple of years ago. A scene was set up and secretly filmed in a grocery store where an actor was hired to be the customer who was the Abuser. A young man with Down Syndrome played the part of the Bag-packer.
The Abuser verbally attacked the Bag-packer, and the cameras were capturing the scene to see if anyone would defend the young man with Down Syndrome. A few kind people graciously gave the Abuser advice on trying to see life through the Bag-packers eyes. A few people ripped into the Abuser with angry words, like I would have done.
Then the sweetest elderly lady came along and encouraged the Abuser to be kind.
She then hugged the young man who had Down Syndrom and let him know she appreciated him.
Okay, I may have cried.
*Watch the video: HERE
But would I have been so kind to the Abuser? Probably not. I have a tendency to want to lash out instead of giving grace. But I felt convicted.
My heart is overly sensitive to people with special needs; since it hits close to home.
This morning I read a post in one of the FB autism groups I am part of, and anger rose in my chest. A mom had taken her little girl with autism to the grocery store. For most kids with autism, this is the worst place to take them. But not everyone has childcare or help outside their families. There were many times I had to take Kyle into a store, and it was a real struggle to survive the meltdowns.
Telling a child who has autism they can’t bring home their hundredth tube of toothpaste, can cause a huge scene, that can get downright embarrassing for the mom. An autistic child with OCD doesn’t see the logic of not being able to buy another tube when they have ninety-nine more at home.
This mom was standing at the bakery counter when her child was offered a cookie. The little girl went to take the cookie, and the bakery employee told the little girl to say please. The mom explained to the employee her daughter had very little communication due to autism. Incredibly, the employee who apparently was a Dr. Phil expert blurted out, “I don’t believe in autism, that’s just bad parenting and lazy kids.”
By now, as I’m reading this, I have my fangs out, and my claws are sharpened. I imagine locking the rude lady in the giant freezer behind the bakery and throwing away the key. Yes, Mama Bear shows up some days, and she ain’t pretty.
The mom explained that her daughter was now in a huge meltdown.
Instead of lashing out she walked away with her screaming daughter and headed to the checkout with her “non- autistic” child. She grabbed a pkg of $2 cookies and went to pay, but her card was declined.
An older gentleman approached her and explained he had overheard the bakery employee and thought she had been rude. By now the mom was almost having her own meltdown and was feeling utterly defeated.
The elderly gentleman handed her $5.
He walked up to her daughter and interacted with her sweetly. He then said, “My bother had autism, he died a few years ago, he loved cookies, have some for him.” Then he walked away.
This mother said she left the store with her heart full.
What would an autism-mom say to the man with the heart of kindness? Thank you! When you were sweet to her child with autism, you were showing love to all the children with special needs. You also set an example to everyone else who was watching the scene unfold; how to respond when someone is rude.
The gentleman didn’t lash out at the bakery clerk, he gave kindness where it was needed instead. One day someone close to the bakery employee may have autism. Hopefully, she will learn to love, and will very distinctly remember this gracious, sweet mother and the older man, and be thankful people were kind to her, when she wasn’t.
Kindness shows others we are waiting for them to catch up.
*If you would like to learn more about autism visit the Autism Speakswebsite
*Read a short and heartwarming post: Autism and My Valentine.