Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – If He Really Knew Me

In Their Own Words – If He Really Knew Me

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.

  1. Cheryl
    September 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Your son sounds like a super kid. Keep up the good work mom!

  2. Gidjett
    September 14, 2010 at 11:11 am

    OMG this sounds so much like something that happened to my son in school last week. I don’t understand how we still live in a world were we all fight to be free and different but yet we don’t try to teach our children( who will be the futu…re leaders of the world) that we ARE all free and different and that there is nothing wrong with that. I found out from my visit to the school about our incident that the child was ignorant because the parents were the same. If we as adults won’t even put forth the effort to educate ourselves about the differences in the world how do we expect the children to be any better. I told the childs parents that I felt pitty for them not because of their lack of concern but because of their ignorance and stupidity. Stay Positive

  3. Susan V
    September 14, 2010 at 11:19 am

    JR,this story brings tears to my eyes because your son sounds exactly like what I envision my son being like at that age – he is now 8 years old, and already shares some of the amazing quailities you describe in your son. How lucky we are to have boys with such big, loving hearts… and yes, there are MANY lessons to be learned from them. I learn from my boy on a daily basis. You have clearly done a great job, and have obviously raised a smart and loving boy!

  4. September 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I would have knocked the kid who hit my son into next week! (not really, but I would have been angry enough to do so!)– How incredible that your son had such an incredible perspective! Whatever you are doing, keep on sister… hope my kiddo could respond that way!

  5. September 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Now that just made me cry! We all can definitely learn from these kids- I know I have! Thanks for sharing your story!!

  6. stefanie
    September 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

    yicks i have autism an part of my trauing was to learn that not everyone is nice i hope he can learn how to deffend himself aginst bu;;y as this will happen at time growing up .it baffile me when i have adult bullys to deal with usly iu just ignor them but if i can think of somethjing to say to put them in there place an make them feel stupid i will .it very hard for us to stick up for are self .i still need help with who a friend an aqunnits .but i hope he was told that boy was in trouble an he should be mad .it not good that he like that .sry he got hurt

  7. September 14, 2010 at 11:46 am

    your son has a beautiful heart. The other kids (and the rest of us) have a lot to learn from him. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Paula
    September 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    What an amazing heart your son has! I personally think that the reason people tease others with special needs is that they are seeing the imprefections inside of themselves (like looking in a mirror) and makes them uncomfortable. Good for him to look past all that :) Yes, I too agree, that we are the ones who need special training to be nice and practice tolerance for one another :)

  9. Barbara
    September 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    That is aweful that this happened to your son! Where is the supervison on that bus? There should be someone else on that bus besides the bus driver. Even if it is the smaller bus. My son is on the little bus and there is a behavior person to watch over the kids while the bus driver is driving. you are right….people can learn alot from your son.

  10. Kerry
    September 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    All kids should be like him!

  11. September 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I love this, and it breaks my heart a little, too. People have so much to learn from our children about caring. Many neurally typical kids don’t have what this child has; a heart that forgives others. I sent it to my friends. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Dawn Martin
    September 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you.

  13. stefanie
    September 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    i see all people as goood but have learn not all are nice an trusting what moire hsard to understand are adult that are not nice or make fun of us as it hsas been my experinces in working it made it so bad i couldnt any more it was like being in school

  14. Becky Simpson
    September 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    My 10 year old son has PDD-NOS as well, and a big heart too. This story reminded me of my son, because he is very forgiving and never sees the bad in people, only good. What a great way to see the world, If only…

  15. Kelly
    September 14, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    God bless your son! You are right, we need to learn from them! My daughter is special needs and it sometimes overshadows my son who has Aspergers’. He is big hearted to the point where he is a target sometimes for bullies. I get so angry and he just absorbs it and turns it into something positive-God sends us these kids to teach US, not the other way around. We are truly blessed :)

  16. Chalice
    September 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I hope that bully apologized to your son and was removed from the bus! Thanks for sharing. Your son sounds very similar to my own.

    Best wishes to you!

  17. Noreen
    September 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    It’s important to continue to teach our children that not everyone has good intentions and not everyone is nice. This is the real world and though we treat our kids with special love and attention, others do not and are aggressive. I think we’re best to teach our kids Karate and self defense. The world is a jungle and you need some “basic skills” to back aggressors off. While I loved this child’s attitude, I fear for him, as I do for my own son and those that aggressors see as “vulnerable easy victims”. It looks like I have a lot of social stories to go through with my son. :( As usual, the loving and sweet people are the victims of these aggressive bullies. Our kids must learn to protect themselves. I’m getting right on it. It’s a smart person who knows how to avoid or win the fight quickly. Dealing with overly aggressive people has always been a problem with me but once you learn how to “surprise, wow or outwit them” it feels great and empowering. Good luck! There will always be the cold hearted opportunists out there and friends help a lot with steering them away but our kids don’t even have that luxury. We need to Teach them Well (both good and bad situations).

  18. angie
    September 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    yes us typical people are the ones who need that special training! my daughter ella is on the spectrum and i have learned so much from her already. you’d be amazed what you can learn from a 4 year old who doesnt speak… the world would be a very different place if everyone could be as caring as your son..

  19. September 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    JR, you certainly have raised an incredible son. Be proud of yourself for everything you’ve done for him. Be proud of him for being the amazing person he is and the adult he will become.

  20. Sara
    September 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    My son is only 4 but I feel like he’s turning out like your son… :) He’s SO incredibly loving and is this amazing light to be around! Everything is so exciting to him and he’s always smiling! Reading your story brought tears to my eyes because it’s something I’ve imagined my son having to go through. I imagined this very situation down to the smiling at the boy because he didn’t understand. (If my son doesn’t understand something he’ll smile real big and start talking about something he loves!) Autism to me hasn’t been a burden or bad experience, it’s been the most incredible eye opening humbling experience of my life. I believe these beautiful boys of our are here to teach us a thing or two! It’s just a shame some don’t understand or care to.

  21. Ursula Accorinti
    September 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Your son is an angel. I’m sure you’re very proud of him. :)

  22. Laura
    September 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Sounds so much like my son, who is only 10. I fear for kids like ours because the world will chew them up and spit them out. Your son is the bigger person, the charitable and kind one, but he is also the one who got beaten up. How do we keep them from getting disillusioned or hurt by the poor behavior of “traditional” kids?

  23. spaceandtime
    September 15, 2010 at 6:15 am

    that brought tears to my eyes, you are right we have so much to learn from “special need kids”.

  24. lisadee
    September 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I’m thinking a little bit of your sons heart needs to be with all kids (and adults). Tell your son he is awesome! Thanks for sharing

  25. Cindy Houghton
    September 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

    My son, now 18, also went to a public school in So Cal. His first high school experience was awful! He was at Pomona High, and was beaten up in the bathroom by little gang bangers, and punched in the head by a paraprofessional who thought she could abuse him and wouldn’t be believed. We are now in CO and he is in a much kinder environment. So Cal schools DO NOT protect our kids. They DO NOT follow IEPs. Parents, beware! Be vigilant!

    (And, go ahead and tell me “not every school is like that”. OK, fine, whatever. Lots of them ARE!

  26. Misha
    September 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I wish my girl of 14 could begin to express her self with speech. I can’t even relate. Her teacher took off last year to have a baby. Her class went the rest of the year without a teacher. just para’s

  27. Lori
    September 20, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    What an awesome son you have! When I read your story it brought tears to my eyes. I agree we all need some training in how to be nice to each other. I hope my son who is 5 and has autism turns out the same as your son! Keep up the wonderful work and thank you so much for sharing your story!

  28. Pam
    September 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I agree that your son is wonderful, however practical social skills should be taught to him so that he can read a situation and address it so as to protect himself. I am only saying this because when my son was about 10 he was being bulled by students in his school but even worse he was emotionally by a teacher which was hidden by the administrators. Horrifically he ended up in a physciatric ward for one week. It is the worse nightmare our family has endured. Although all parents want their children to be good and kind, they also need to acknowledge that in order to prepare their children for a life without a parent. Each child has to develope a sense of danger, wrongness of a situation and be aware that not all people are good. Needless to say that my son left that school and is now quite happy at age 17. It took us years of psycho therapy, med management and social skills training to past this horrific time of his life. It is so important to teach our children to live a balanced life disabled or non-disabled.

  29. stefanie
    September 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    im learing to advoct for myself an speak up of i feel im being disrepced it not easy im a shy person on top of the autism so being addssertid isnt easy but when i can stick up for myself it feel good ,my parents have all ways taught me that not everyone is nice most are but you will sometime have to deal with those kid an adult bully .if you dont get yopur child readfy for the vreal world no one will

  30. belinda gordon
    November 10, 2010 at 12:31 am

    today my 9 yo son with Aspergers lost another ‘best’ friend who thought it just wasn’t cool to have my son be his best friend any longer & my heart broke as my son recounted how this kid is overtly shunning him. I quietly ask are you Ok if he doesn’t want to be your friend anymore? stepping feebly behind hearts armor he responded a little quieter (than a few months ago when another “friend” made such decision) “his loss”. adding ‘I’ll just find someone else to play with”. My son also never wants me angry with the mean kids. he always chooses the high road. & it is sad that that is the least trodden path. thank you though 2 months late reading it it brought tears to my eyes we only need to listen to hear God speak.

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