Nicole Duggan began noticing that parents would pull their children away from her son. The thing is, 3-year-old Riley has autism and is non-verbal.
Judgment is an issue that many people with special needs face, thinks Nicole. So, when friends stop coming over and Riley’s friends started to turn back on him, Nicole knew parents made assumptions about the boy.
The mom from Ireland wrote a letter to all those parents and it will make you cry:
“My little boy is just like your child, he loves to dance, he loves to be cuddled, he cries when he falls, and he adores Mickey Mouse. He is, however, “wired differently”. The small things we take for granted every day are the hardest things for him to cope with. Different lights, sounds, smells or even the look of something can cause an overload that is too hard for an adult to deal with, let alone my little boy.
To the people that stare at him because he hums, join in with his little singsong, because in his eyes he is singing the best song in the world. To the mothers that pull their children away from him, you are creating the bullies of the future. Children don’t notice the differences; they just want to play, let them.
To the lady that called him bold in the supermarket, try to look at things from his perspective. An overload of colors and sounds. People whizzing past you. You too would cry your eyes out if you could not tell anyone how you are feeling when it all gets too much.
To the friends that have disappeared, I hope this never knocks on your front door. I would not change my small man for the world and if you cannot understand him and how he works, then you do not deserve to be in his life in the first place.
Children with needs are the bravest, most courageous and most amazing little people in this world. They are fighting battles nobody knows and I guarantee not one adult would make it through half of the obstacles they do. Just because there is not a physical difference does not mean they are simply bold.
So this year I ask you to think before you judge, live a day in my small man’s shoes and you will understand how much of a superhero he really is.”