It took me five tries to actually read the whole letter. I had seen it on a few friends' Facebook pages and glanced at it, but I just could not bear to read such complete hatred for another person, especially hatred for someone with autism. If you have not seen the letter and have a strong stomach, you can read it here.
One of my problems with the letter is it confirmed something I have known for years. Those looks -- the ones we have gotten in stores, on the street, at the playground, at church -- some of those looks match this woman's words. I had hoped I was interpreting them incorrectly.
I was hoping I was being overly sensitive. But in the pit of my stomach, I have always known some of those looks have questioned Peter's humanity. They have put him in a different category and it scares me. It scares me that people can hate Peter for his noise level when he is stressed. It scares me that people can not separate Peter from his behaviors.
He is a gentle soul trying to figure out how to live in a world that is too noisy, too busy, too fast. When all those things overwhelm him, he then becomes too noisy, too quick to react. He is trying to learn how to handle this world of ours and we are trying to give it to him in very small doses so he can adjust.
I am not going to respond directly to what this mother wrote about another child. I do not think her hatred merits a direct response. I am going to address all the parents who have special needs children. Peter has helped me look at everyone with a more patient heart. For every look that stings know there is another parent who has caught you doing amazing things for your child.
Know that I smiled as I walked up the grocery aisle after watching a mom gently redirect a struggling child for what must have been the tenth time. Know I said a little prayer for the mom who looked so tired as she tried to quickly drag her sobbing child out of a loud party. Know I smiled at your little girl who could only glance over at me, but desperately wanted to connect.
Please know that the letter writer is not alone, but neither are you. There are many people who appreciate what you are doing for your child and are taking the walk along with you.
This post originally appeared on It's the Little Things: Family Life on the Autistic Spectrum.