This story comes from a good friend and neighbor. I am so grateful for her in my life. Besides the fact that she is a beautiful human being, she has taught me so much about autism. One of her 9 year old twin boys has autism and these stories are about him. They were important for me to share because there is a very big misconception that autistic people do not like human contact. I know because I was a believer of this misconception. This is not the truth. Some of them crave it. Her boy happens to be one of them.
The first story she shared through a post on her facebook page. S. loves to hug. Unfortunately, the problem is that it is not socially acceptable to hug without asking first. So we have been teaching him to ask first. Can you believe that somebody actually told him no? I’m sure it had to do with being a germaphobe but really? Then when someone who overhear the conversation said can I have a hug? he said “no.”. Ugh. Fortunately in this situation he did not melt down which he had every right to do. He accepted the no graciously which is amazing in and of itself. This particular person was even someone he knew. I was heartbroken when I heard.
The second story was also via a post to me on facebook. I’ve decided you are going to have to come with S and I one day as we go about our day. S was turned down again after asking someone for a hug 😦 I learned that this time he asked a stranger at Whole Foods so it was certainly a little more understandable, but still heartbreaking.
Don’t worry. I am saving the best for last. Here is the latest email from my friend. I just wanted to pass on what happened yesterday. We go horseback riding twice a week to Reins From Above in Kenly. It’s a long drive but the farm is beautiful and the people are truly amazing. They work on volunteer basis. Riders consist of kids who have autism, adults who have had strokes, kids with physical disabilities, even kids with sensory issues. H actually rides too on Saturdays to help strengthen his trunk. I absolutely love this place.
Well, yesterday after we were done riding there was a young girl probably about 16 who was cleaning out a stall with what appeared to be her therapist. She saw the boys and immediately stopped what she was doing. I’m pretty sure she has autism but not 100%. She was talking to S asking him his name. He was being very closed off. Then we said our goodbyes to her and she said “wait a minute S. Can I have a hug?”. He got a huge smile on his face and ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug. I walked away thinking to myself that this girl probably has no idea how much that meant to S and to myself after he’s been constantly declined for hugs. What’s funny is the adults who should know better how no clue how hurtful they can been. Yet a young girl with a disability knew how to reach out to S. Amazing!
I know that each story is it’s own moment and not a representation on how the entire population thinks or acts, but it’s important to remember just how much our actions affect those around us. I know most of us have the capability and desire to be kind and compassionate toward others, I just look forward to the day when it is consistently put in to practice.
Please accept this blog as my virtual hug to you.