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In Their Own Words – If He Really Knew Me

September 14, 2010 30 comments

This “In Their Own Words” is by JR Inman, who has a teenage son with high-functioning autism.

My son is now 14 years old and is considered now to be high-functioning. As all of you can imagine, he definitely did not start out that way. We have worked very hard on giving him the social skills that he needs to fit into society. He has learned them so well and has such a big heart that he tends to be much more forgiving of others’ bad behavior than most of us.

He was attending a public school in Southern California and he rode a bus specifically for special needs children. However, because of budget cuts, they slowly began to add typical children to his bus in the afternoon. He had complained to me that there were boys on his bus that he did not understand. I asked him what he meant and he said they were the boys from the “other side” of the school who talk fast. I called the school to ask what was going on and they explained that because of the cuts in the budget they were forced to adjust the routes and add children to some buses. I told my son to try and avoid these boys. He said that he was, but I was still very nervous.

About a week later, I received a call from the transportation department telling me that my son had an “accident” on the bus. As it turned out, they added a child in a wheelchair on the bus. As the driver left the bus to help the child, one of the typical boys got up and began to say very unpleasant things to my son. My son is a very loving boy and has never said anything unkind to anyone on purpose. He does repeat sayings; but as soon as he learns that what he just repeated it is not nice, he never says it again. As this boy was talking to him, my son just smiled at him because he did not understand what was being said to him.

To make a long story short, my son ended up with a black eye and a swollen nose.  When I got to the school office and saw him, I was so angry. I began yelling at the head of transportation, asking him what in the world was he thinking putting a child like that with a busload of special needs children. My son immediately got up, grabbed my arm and said, “Please mom, don’t be mad at them.” I turned to him and asked, “Who should I be mad at?” My son looked at me and said, “It is not that boy’s fault; he just didn’t know me. If that boy really knew me, he would not have done that. He would have been my friend.”

My son never sees the bad side of anyone. He consistently thinks that everyone is nice, and if someone is not, it is just because things have not been explained to that person. He never says anything mean or hateful about anyone, no matter how they treat him. We could all learn a lot from our special needs friends. I sometimes think that we are the ones who need the special training to be nice and tolerant of each other.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

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