May 1, 2012

Dear Patrons of Walmart...

Today you might have seen (or at the very least...heard) me and my son in the store today. He's not a bad boy...I promise you. He was overwhelmed and I couldn't help him this time.

He began screaming - so much and so loud that he frightened the woman in line ahead of us. I would have apologized to her if she hadn't cut me off and immediately said terrible things about my boy. Snap judgement's hurt. I don't often let myself get affected by the stares and comments of others...but today was hard. My heart was breaking for my little man. Thor has been having a very difficult time the last few days and I know he doesn't want to act like that. In fact, on the way home he was screaming, "I want to stop crying."  But he was so upset he couldn't.

Thor is a loving child who wants nothing more than to be part of the world as best as he can. He becomes easily tired and overwhelmed if presented with too much unknown all at once. He is a creature of habit, with a strict adherence to the plan as it is laid in his mind. A buffer, in the form of someone familiar, helps to ease his fears. And this is where his service dog would begin to make the greatest impact: allowing him the security to transition between the familiar and that which is new, giving him the additional support to keep moving forward. Thor's Autism Service Dog will be trained to help him in situations like we experienced today. A constant, calming presence. 

I would like each and every one of you, the next time you see a child screaming in out in public, to not judge. Don't assume that child is a brat. Don't assume that the mom or dad are terrible parents. Don't assume anything. Don't look at them like they are the worst people on the planet because their child is screaming or crying...or both.

...because maybe? Just maybe they are doing their very best and that child has sensory issues, or a developmental disability which makes it impossible at times for them to control themselves.

1 in 88 children have Autism. So chances are you already know someone with Autism...and if you don't now, you probably will soon.

Yesterday was the last day of Autism Awareness Month, but every day is Autism Awareness Day in my house. Please remember that the autistic children of today will be the autistic adults of tomorrow. These people need and deserve our compassion, understanding and respect.


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