So an Autistic Boy Hit My Son Yesterday…

This Sunday was unseasonably pleasant; or maybe it was seasonably pleasant. You never can tell what season we’re supposed to be in in Georgia outside of the summer months. This Sunday it was spring. On Thursday we’re going back to winter.

photo (1)The sunshine had put my kids in a particularly good mood, which was fortunate because my cousin had invited us to join her at the Georgia Aquarium. She had been gifted two extra tickets and was kind enough to share them with us. I took Stone and Liya with me since they rarely get to go anywhere these days. We ogled strange looking fish, ooo’d and aaah’d over the immense expanse of the whale shark, and squealed at the weird snake/worm things burrowing and resurfacing out of the sand in the tropical fish tank. Like any good mother, I pretended this was all new to me and let the kids explain in pre-school and toddler voices the importance of keeping Nemo in his anemone and safe from kidnapping divers.

Two hours into our excursion we decided to stop for lunch at the aquarium’s café, which as you can imagine cost me a small fortune. Thankfully, I did not have my entire brood in tow or else I might’ve been forced to convert an exhibit into my own personal sushi platter. The aquarium was packed with visitors, and it seemed as though everyone decided to eat at the same time. One of the ballrooms on the second floor was opened up to allow patrons to eat lunch, which was a fortuitous event as far as I was concerned. To my knowledge, the ballrooms are the only place to see the beluga whales, so we settled in to eat our $25.17 baked chicken and cheese pizza with minimal complaints.

As was to be expected, Stone and Liya spent the better part of the hour running between the table and the tank, taking bites of food and debating whether the large white being with half closed eyes “farting” in the water was a beluga or a dolphin. (That was my fault. Mommy lied and said it was a dolphin, just to end the incessant queries about when we were going to see the dolphins.) The afternoon was on autopilot at this point. No one could get lost, the area we were in was climate controlled, and there was enough stimulation to keep my kids occupied with minimal effort on my part. I bit into my chicken and chewed it contentedly, preparing to relax.

Then I heard someone wailing. Whose child was that? Hmmm. It sounded like mine…

I looked up and saw Stone’s face, frozen in a half heave, half scream, eyes transfixed on the fish tank in obvious distress. I rushed over to him to find out what was wrong, not so much because I was concerned that something was seriously amiss, but because I wanted to get back to my chicken as quickly as possible.

“What’s wrong buddy?”

“He hit me in the faaaace!!!” he wailed pointing at a table behind us. He sounded so forlorn, but when I saw the towheaded little cherub he was pointing at, I was convinced he was exaggerating about the extent of his supposed injury.

“That’s a baby, Stonie. He didn’t mean to hit you…”

Stone shook his head furiously. “No! Not him…HIM!”

His pudgy little finger was pointed in the direction of a massive child dressed in a white polo and khakis. He had a grin on his face and a slight bend in his wrist. It occurred to me that something was amiss with the boy, but medically I couldn’t ascertain what that was. I tried to comfort Stone, but he would not be consoled. He wanted justice. I sighed and approached who I thought might be the boy’s parents. The couple was watching me with such keen interest that I was sure it was their child.

I have a policy that only permits me one “Black Woman Freak Out” per week, and I had already redeemed my token at LA Fitness the Friday before. Unbeknownst to the frightened looking couple, they were quite safe.

“Excuse me,” I said cautiously. “Is that your son?”

“No,” said the man with the camo trucker hat and full beard. “That’s his dad.”

He nodded in the direction of a man staring down at this telephone, obviously purposefully ignoring our conversation. At a mere 10 feet away, he was within earshot but refusing to pay attention the very public scene unfolding before him. He had on a bright blue tee shirt with two words written boldly on the front: Autism Matters

I groaned inwardly, frozen and unsure what to do next. Suddenly, I had become an unwilling participant in the Disadvantaged Olympics, a case of fully functioning Black woman (but disadvantaged because, you know, I’m BLACK) against the father of an autistic child who is disadvantaged because of his disability. A swirl of media messages came at me out of nowhere. All of the stories I’d read on Facebook, Yahoo! Shine and a myriad of parenting blogs about mean people like me who discriminated against their children merely because they looked or acted different confronted me like a crack dealer looking for his due. What could I do, with my sobbing child in my hands, a boy running roughshod and blissfully nonchalant about the crime he’d recently committed and a father who didn’t even have the decency to look up from his phone to offer neither acknowledgment nor apology for the wrong meted out against my kid?

I dropped it. And I tried to explain it to Stone. I told him the kid didn’t mean it, that he didn’t understand what he’d done. How do you explain autism and disabilities to a four year old? I barely understand all there is to know myself! My son was having none of it. He began to wail anew. Finally, the man in the camo hat walked over and patted Stone’s head.

“Jeesh. I’m sorry buddy,” he said in a Southern drawl. He kept my gaze. “He’s got autism, see? He doesn’t always understand what he’s doing…”

“Yes. I saw his dad’s shirt.” I paused. “It’s okay.”

He rubbed Stone’s head gently one more time and walked back over to his wife. The 9 year old boy continued to run around the room squealing, and I stood protectively between Stone and all the other children, in case anything else untoward jumped off. In the back of my mind, I felt unsure about whether I’d handled the situation appropriately. My mother-in-law confirmed that I had NOT. An educator for 30 years, she had a completely different view of the events.

“No, Malaka,” she said firmly. “We had autistic children in our classes and we set expectations for them just like we did for the other children. They know right from wrong, and if they don’t, it’s because their parents haven’t TAUGHT them right for wrong. The only reason that boy slapped Stone is because his daddy lets him hit other kids…and one day that’s going to come back and bite him. One day, he’s going to do something worse than a slap!”

That was just BAD PARENTING, she concluded. If the man can’t control his kid, he shouldn’t have him out in public! She was livid. She was right, of course. A child with disabilities is just like any other child, with the same needs: love, care and correction. It was my prejudice that let both father and son off the hook. If I had not made assumptions about what the boy was capable of, or assumed that the dad was weary of perpetually correcting his kid, Stone would have gotten the apology he deserved.

What do you think, MOM Squad? I know a number of you have children with disabilities, so this would be a chance to discuss how you think this interaction should have played out, or better still, how you WISH parents would interact in general. Did I handle it poorly, well, or just right? People without kids, I’d like your thoughts as well. One day you may find yourself in the care of a child (yours or someone elses). Discuss!

  • Rasheeda

    My best friends daughter is autistic and although they are varying degrees of it and hers being mild, I still can’t see my girlfriend or her husband allowing that behavior of any of their children to exist. Whether they understand or not, they still have to relate to other humans in the world in a peaceful manner. There is a fine line between dealing with disabilities and plain out parenting and learning how to navigate that terrain is the unique blessing that having a child with special needs brings, but I promise the answer was not in that phone his face was buried in, that was sheer avoidance.

    • You know what? If I had to bet my fave pair of Zigi Soho’s I’d say you’re right: The answer was NOT on the screen of his smart phone. :/

  • That mess happened to one of my children and I had no problem going over to the child’s parent and asking them “Why did you let your child hit mine and NOT DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT??” She carefully explained that he was autistic and that he didn’t know what he was doing. I told her that “If you keep letting him do this then he will NOT know what is inappropriate to do! If people can train stupid, wild animals to dance and not attack them whilst in the same cage, then an intelligent human can teach an intelligent child, even with autism, how not to hurt others! And furthermore, if he can’t behave in a public place, then take him to another situation where he can handle himself! When he can handle himself, then transition him back. If you are embarrassed by this, then YOU need help too! Don’t sit here and ignore what he does because some day, some other person won’t talk. They will come to blows because Honey, there is NO excuse for bad manners!”
    She sat there stunned for a while, grabbed her child and then left.
    We eventually spoke again a few weeks later and she decided to get some help with their problem…because some other child hit him back and knocked him off of his feet!

    • Dag Misty. I would have left too! Ha! What you insinuated (or plainly stated, rather) is that we all do these kids an injustice by saying “he/she has autism they don’t know what they are doing.”

      The other kid smacking the crap out of hers is probably something she never anticipated. Other kids don’t care about your condition. They care about revenge.

  • Allison

    Man, I wish there was a like button on your page. Misty hit it squarely on the head. Parents of children with disabilities have this very strange quality of wanting their kids to be treated like “normal” kids, but completely drop the ball themselves by buying into the myth that their children can’t be trained, for lack of a better word. My husband’s brother has an autistic child and the way they deal with her makes me very uncomfortable. She’s off the charts smart so they focus pretty much entirely on her academics and have let her behavior go for so long that she’s almost feral. She’s almost 15 years old and they’re at the stage only now where they’re praising her for ‘good” behavior, which has always made me wonder at what point does a parent stop rewarding this and simply expect it. What’s worse is that they have dedicated so much energy to her that their other children have learned by watching their sister that behaving as she does gets them attention, not discipline, so now there’s also a 13 and 11 year old who are getting gold stars for being good. I’ve noticed that a lot of parents don’t seem to know the line between acknowledging their children’s limitations and making the necessary adjustments in their own behavior to help their children. If your kid isn’t the kind who has retreated so far into him or herself that communication is impossible, there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why my kid has to suffer for your failing. You are no martyr with your Autism shirt. I appreciate your struggle. Raising kids is hard in perfect circumstances. My kid will be kind, sure, but you best believe you will deal with me.

  • Angela maxwell

    I’m sorry that you had that experience. I hope I can shed some light on the subject of autism and social interaction. It’s so easy to label people and we do it without thinking. There is always more to the story. I don’t know that man or the extent of his son’s issues, but I am a single mother of a 7 year old with ASD and I can tell you with certainly, though to you the boy looked blissful and nonchalant about the crime he commited on your son. In truth he didn’t know how to act. Since my son was a baby, he didn’t know how to express his emotions, he never smiled even when you knew he was happy. He couldn’t speak at least not well enough to be understood by anyone not even me. The simplest words were hard for him to connect with the emotion he was feeling. He had to be taught with rigor on every aspect of occupational, speech and social therapy. Thousands of dollars and countless hours. I am on both side of this I have a daughter with no delays and you would call her perfect , the things I had to teach my son even something as simple as a hug, came as natural as breathing for my second child that was not on the spectrum. So if you could just for one second pretend your son had a condition where he could not properly express his emotions to you and it took him the first 4years to just show you that he loved you with a hug. This boy maybe felt justified hitting your son( he was not ) but if your son did that to another kid and you spanked him till he walked funny, I’m sure that your son would never hit another kid again, right? Well not so with children with ASD. Bribe , threaten, love…none if that works. It’s like speaking to someone in a language you aren’t familiar with. They speak a little bit of your language and you just keep trying, speaking louder and slower till you think the foreigner knows what you kinda meant. This father was wrong for not addressing you but in his defense he is probably desensitized by it since he has spent the entirety of his sons life explaining and apologizing to everybody that his son crossed paths with. His son may have had a compulsion or he may have wanted to covey something to your son that in the instant he couldn’t recall a better response then to hit. I have a bit of anger towards you mother in law, and though I appreciate her work as an educator, I don’t agree that just because she has had a few children with ASD that she knows best. Because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about and sound ignorant for saying that the boys slapping will lead to anything else. Also the comment in regards to not taking them in public, (ignorant ) how would they learn if you shut them away? We would all be shut ins if we took the advise if your mother in law. The boy was 9 and to you and your son he looked like an ass that was happy to see your son in pain. But the truth is that what has taken your son 4years to learn will take that boy 15 to do and though the man didn’t handle it right , you did. You aren’t his parent and none of us know what’s going on, because all of us ASD parents deal with this on varying degrees. One more thing, you forgot one more thing a child needs Love, Care, Correction, and Grace.

    • In some way I think you’re projecting here. I have malice towards the bigger kid. I get he’s autistic and has no impulse control. My ire is strictly reserved for his father who CHOSE not to intervene it correct in that moment. I couldn’t care less how desensitized he is to his son’s behavior- he has an obligation to correct it at all relevant times and he knows that!
      I failed to mention within the body of the article that I solve the same family downstairs in the gift shop at the Georgia aquarium. The same boy was running through the gift shop picking up toys and tossing them. His father immediately jumped over to him and grabbed his hands and made him put the toys down. Why could mean not have done that when his son slap my own? The only thing I can surmise is that the crime of hitting my smaller, younger child did not warrant correction as far as he was concerned, and that some bull!
      Nowhere did I say that I assume the older boy was happy to see my son in pain, but I canceled my step perhaps HIS father was happy for – or was desensitized to – MY son’s pain.

      No matter what your child’s ability, we all as parents have an obligation to guide and correct them. This family does not get a pass as far as I’m concerned.

  • Hi there. I agree with what Angela said. I have a child with Autism who is 6 and aggressive at times. I have tried it all, therapy of all kinds, every parenting technique out there. Of course your child got hurt and your angry. You did the right thing by not exploding, but then it seems your mother in law made you feel you you should have done more to serve justice to those people. I’m sorry but her advice is not good advice. I do think the Dad should have apologized to you and your son. What if there is another reason for him not responding appropriately. Maybe the Dad also had Autism and didn’t know how to socially respond. Maybe the Dad was hearing impaired and texting on his phone so he didn’t know what happened. Maybe the Dad received a text that his mom just got rushed to the hospital and he was in shock. I don’t know the actual reason for the Parent not correctly intervening and you can only assume but there are other possibilities besides bad parenting. And maybe even with the best parenting in all the earth, every type of intensive therapy, and even medications, that may not have been enough to stop the incident that happened. In the end, I thank you for being a merciful person and granting grace to people you feel don’t deserve it. God bless.

    • I think I have more than explained that the father was just a negligent, entitled individual! There was no crisis! He saw what happened and nonchalantly ignored it. His friend/brother/whatever he was came over and apologize and explained, and it was not his responsibility to do so!
      I have to say I am very frightened by your excusing his behavior, and if this is the way you conduct yourself as parents of children – autistic or not -in public I hope never to encounter either of you. God bless.

      • Angela maxwell

        I thought you wanted insight into our world but instead you just wanted to put us all in a corner and label us and our children. You said you are a minority, but you don’t sound any different then any other ignorant scared Prejudiced individual throughout history. God forgive you for your ignorance and everyone like you. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. Wayne dyer

        • Oh. Shut. Up.
          You want unrequited and tacit approval for the horrible job you’re doing as a parent. You think you’re entitled to first place in the Oppression Olympics. No way! We all have our burdens and crosses to bear. You get no more grace as a parent than the rest of us do. God forgive you and your ilk. And stop running around calling people ignorant. You look a fool.

          • Trish

            I think you should walk a mike in someone else’s shoes before you judge. You don’t know what that father was on the phone about. It could have been in regards to something very important. That boy could have been trying to play. You have no idea. If the dad would’ve corrected him & the boy did it again then what? I’m just saying you DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT AUTISM…because your son is typical. If he was autistic you may see things differently. So your mother in law has had some children with autism…they say if you’ve met one child with autism then you’ve met one child with autism. You know that boy wasn’t a dog you can’t train autistic children like they are dogs. Do some research. Go to autism speaks watch temple grandin the movie maybe you can educate yourself.

          • *DEEP LONG EYE ROLL*
            The point isn’t about autism. It’s about PARENTING.
            And for the record, I’m educated enough about autism to have not gone over there and smacked the crap out of that boy or his dad. One of those two people had the power to control the outcome of the situation, and he chose not to.
            Hey and guess what? My son is BLACK. Last I checked, they weren’t out shooting autistic white kids in the street, but it sure is open season on kids that look like my son. YOU DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT BLACKNESS! Go and educate yourself.

  • Emily Webb

    I really enjoy your posts, and truly find you to be a delightful writer, but if I’m being honest, I’m a bit bothered by your comment responses to both Angela and Olivia.
    Both Moms agreed that the Father’s response was not in any way the best case scenario, but they both offered differing opinions (which to be fair, you asked for in the last paragraph of your post) and your response (from an outsiders perspective) seems super defensive and eventually even antagonistic. If I read it wrong, I’m really sorry. I just thought you should know how your comments seemed to me.
    For my two cents (and this is only my opinion) I think that the situation you experienced was awful and unfortunate, and especially scary for your child. I’m truly not trying to defend the Dad. His response wasn’t okay. Whether he hadn’t slept in the last 24 hours, or he was totally hearing impaired or he was just a giant jerk. He was for sure in the wrong. However, you yourself said that it was a great location to zone out as a parent for a bit. That doesn’t make his response okay. You would have been completely justified in confronting him. But I read the post and imagined having a child who you never get to take a break from watching (like ever) for the real fear that they will wonder away. A kid who will never drive a car, or ask a girl to prom. One who will never get married or hold a job or be able to put their arms around you and in a meaningful way snuggle and tell you how much you love and mean to them. That dude was a jerk for sure, but he didn’t ask for a child with disabilities, and although he is blessed with his sons’ presence, his day as a parent will always be a million times harder than a parent of a neuro-typical child. That father was really, really wrong in that situation. But maybe we could forgive him anyway. Not because he deserves it, but because we are compassionate people who understand empathy (a thing his child will probably never grasp.) He was a jerk in that moment, but I would hesitate to label him a terrible parent for that one afternoon that you were in his presence. I love my children with all of my heart and try to do the very best for them at all times, but I’m sure if you recorded my very worst moments on video and played them for the world to see, I could win some not so good awards. There is a world in which it’s possible that this guys truly sucks, but it’s also possible that this was just a really bad day for him. Can’t we hope it’s the latter and cut (the possible giant jerk) some slack?
    Thanks for letting me share my opinion.

    • I hear you, Emily and I thank you for your comments. I will admit that I was intentionally biting in my second round of responses to Angela and Olivia’s comments, particularly because I was sensitive to the repeated use of word “ignorant”. The trouble with interfacing electronically is that there truly is no tone, and I read their comments as condescending, excusatory and self-righteous. perhaps I am wrong about that, and if so I apologize.
      It’s not that I am not sympathetic to parents of and/or children who are special needs, but I believe every child, no matter their ability level has some required need that their parents have to be ready to deal with.
      We have kids with ADHD who can’t sit still, kleptomaniac’s who steal from other students, kids with anger issues, kids who won’t eat, kids who eat too much, etc. I don’t know what the parents of these children struggle with in raising their children, but I do know that society expects them to set a standard. What I read from Angela and Olivia’s comments is that we should expect no standards at all for this man or his child, hence my ire.

  • Michelle A

    I’ve read this over and over and at first you seem to be somewhat understanding and only had an issue with the father. Then after I read it again I have to wonder if you, by chance, were you on your phone, not paying attention when your child was hit. I have a son with autism and it loud and clear when we’re among other people. I’m not going to deprive my son of things others allowed to enjoy, but unlike this father, I watch my son every second to make sure his behavior is not disrupting others enjoyment. Not going to muzzle him however correct him when being to loud or disrupting someone’s personal space. And as for the other person who said you can train stupid (you’re an ass by the way, nice choice of words) a child with autism has a will that sometime overpowers their ability to do what’s right. Their brain does not work like ours. They are intelligent but if you will educate yourself on something before you make comments you might know this. As for you milaka, why did you have to point out what the “massive” kids was wearing? Or the camo trucker hat the man with the “southern drawl” had on? And did you say toward the end of your post that you didn’t know that much about autsim? And when a mother of a child with autsim tried to shed some light on the subject you then shut her down because she didn’t show her anger like you did about the fathers behavior? Everyone hear agrees the father was in the wrong and you did right by letting it go. But then you were told by you MIL that the boy did this due to bad parenting? And from what I see it looks like you believe her? In some cases that’s true but most, it depends on the child and their ability to connect with what’s right or wrong. And then another mother tries to help explain what the other one was trying to say, you basicly told her that she is someone you hope you will never meet! She is also a person that shared your article to help you with your situation and asked us AU mom if we could give you some insight on how to handle this situation. Didn’t you say “discuss”? From the hat I see you just want to rant and rave over what the father didn’t do instead of listening to why this child did what he did. Us AU moms will protect and defend every child with special needs because we have to everyday of our lives. Whether it be to protect them or educate others. We will do what’s necessary and that’s what these moms were trying to do. I hope you never have to face the challenges we do on a daily bases however I do hope you learn to respect those of is that do!

  • A-Dub

    I’m changing the title to this blog – “So a child in a Wheel Chair hit my son yesterday”…… Please, now… all parents with children in WHEEL CHAIRS – please come and comment on how the father was just so tired of pushing his kid around in the chair and just needed a break from parenting! … Guess what… YOU DON’T GET A BREAK FROM PARENTING!!!! If you want a break, put your child in a safe environment where they are not a danger of hurting themselves or anyone else. What if instead of just hitting Stone, the other kid had a knife?

    When I read this blog, all I wonder is “what would I have done” … As a black woman we have to have double, no 10 times, the situational awareness because guess what WE are not just given a pass! This blog is not about educating the readers on autism but rather about Parenting and what all parties should do in these types of situation. Malaka SHOULD NOT have walked away – because what is that teaching HER son who doesn’t understand autism? Its teaching him that its ok to hit! The father SHOULD HAVE had the BALLS to get up and address the situation because guess what – it is BECAUSE of Malaka’s education that she is not behind bars right now! If someone less educated had been in the situation there’s no telling when her earrings would have come off.

    We all understand him being tired – most PARENTS are. I think all parents can all agree that Malaka’s anger is justified. But instead of trying to just educate the parents with non-autistic kids on autism, how about you (Angela and your cohorts) take some accountability as well and educate YOURSELVES on how NOT to behave in social situations. The father could easily have looked up and brought his son over to apologize. There was nothing THAT important in his phone otherwise he would have left soon after. Stop trying to make excuses for bad parents because the child has a disability.

  • This conversation just makes me so, so sad. Yes, the dad should have apologized or corrected his son, assuming the situation is as you’ve assumed. What scares me more than anything, though, is the myths and stigma that this is feeding (I’m not just talking about the post, I’m talking about the comments, too). Your anger may be justified. Talking to (note I did not say exploding on) the parent at that point and asking for an apology was, perhaps, justified. Allowing a feeding point for myths, stigma, and just plain ableism in a public forum, though? Not so much.

    The behaviors associated with autism aren’t associated with parenting, but to read this comment thread you’d sure come away with that impression…which is not only false but causes harm to any autism parent (the “There’s nothing wrong with that child that a good spanking can’t fix” attitude dogs parents of autistic children everywhere, my mother included), including those on your thread.

    I get it. You were feeling defensive, and possibly even a bit derailed by all the unexpected comments you were getting. And maybe you think, seriously, why so much debate over a seemingly open and shut small incident? As you said yourself, the post wasn’t intended to be about autism, it was intended to be about parenting. Well, it’s not so much about the incident anymore. It’s about people who were hurt by certain implications, word choice, and some (unintended, and apparently unrecognized) ableist sentiments, mostly in the comments. And it’s about not contributing, even indirectly, to the cesspool of discrimination out there, no matter what group it’s directed towards.

  • Demian

    My daughter, in second grade hit a child in kindergarten. This is not the norm. My child is sweet and not aggressive. She does have sensory dis-regulation and lately it has been really bad. Her need to feel pressure is likely the cause for her hitting this child. Sometimes with her sister she is a little rough but she is actually trying to be loving and hugs her to hard. We are constantly ever vigilant and I’m terrified at what just happened. If I was the autism dad in this case I would have come over right away and had my daughter apologize and done what ever I could do to have her understand what she did was wrong. Yes, she has a very difficult time understanding these things, more than you can imagine. However, one can’t give up on their kids. Some day she will be a grown up and laws are laws. I have asked the school teachers and I.E.P. team to make sure other children are safe around my daughter. I have reminded them about her needs. I know they are doing there best. They can’t put my daughter in a bubble and can’t be there every second of the day. The long term solution lies with my daughter and I will be addressing this with the behavioral team that comes to our home. I will be talking to the principal and teacher first thing Monday. I want this child and their parents to know I feel terrible. I am so sorry about what happened to your child. Autism or not no child deserves to be hit. Sincerely,

    A very concerned parent with a child on ASD spectrum

    Demian

    • Thank you for your kind words, Demian. Raising children regardless of their abilities and talents is hard word, no doubt about it. I do not completely blame the older boy who hit my son, because I’m not convinced his parents set limits and expectations for him. Regardless of if your child is autistic, ADHD, highly functioning or what have you, if they have no limits, they can’t operate within something they don’t recognize. At that moment, the dad willfully chose to ignore the situation because quite frankly, my child’s pain wasn’t important to him.

      I’m hoping for nothing but the BEST for you and your kid. As you pointed out, there are so many more resources for special needs kids now, and I’m happy you have access to all this support. Stay well!

      MG.

  • A Mom

    I just want you to know that I was googling something and your article popped up. I’m pretty horrified by your reply in the comments. As a person who has never met you or seen your blog until now, it was clear to me that you immediately and harshly reacted to the first two women who challenged your position on this. I don’t think you actually wanted anything by validation here.

    Separately, as the parent of an autistic child? Yeah, the dad should have responded differently. I think you did your best in the situation in that moment. But the really scary thing here, for me– the underlying thing that I have to worry about every day– is that I can generally assume most people are at least a little like you. Nice people, trying to do the right thing, but when they talk about that experience and anyone pokes them in the slightest way, the ableism comes out full force. It’s easy to be understanding and kind toward people with disabilities until you really have to work through a situation. This is my daily challenge to manage, the only real burden of parenting an autistic child– other people.

    I hope you will read my comment as I typed it, with the intent of both providing another perspective and of highlighting for you that when a parent of an autistic child tries to do a google search looking for hope and positivity, this actually comes up very quickly (in August of 2015), and is terribly disheartening to read.

    (As a final note: MANY autistic adults are actually killed by police; your assertion that they aren’t is incorrect. They are sometimes unable in moments of stress, or anytime, to respond verbally or follow the directives of police officers. A large number of them are Black as well, of course– truthfully, probably most of them. It’s a horrible situation.)

    • Thank you for your comment.