‘Shut up and be quiet!’ An innocent, amazing child was crying, but he was also present and doing amazingly well.’: Mom advocates for autism awareness after shocking encounter

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“Thank you to the woman in an IKEA bathroom yesterday…

Because of you, I will never stop talking about my amazing son. I will never stop protecting him.

He is beautiful. His smile can light up a city. His pure, innocent joy is infectious.

Courtesy of Rachel Spurling

What you didn’t see is a five-year-old with invisible disabilities struggling to wait on his brother in the bathroom. The lights were too bright for his brain. The toilet’s flushing and people going in and out were too loud for his brain. He is nonverbal, so he easily gets frustrated not being able to talk. He waited so well, and we kept telling him over and over, ‘A few more minutes. You are doing great, Curtis.’

Courtesy of Rachel Spurling

We worked so hard before COVID just on waiting during outings: thirty seconds, one minute, two minutes. Repeating praise and affirmations of the next steps over and over the whole time. Every time. He was so close. Then, everything just got to be too much. His brother took longer than usual. Three minutes is his threshold when handling all the sights and sounds at 100mph right now.

We haven’t been out much, due to COVID, but now we are slowly going back out so he can learn to handle everything you, me, his twin, and millions of others don’t even have to think for a second about. And you changed our whole outing in those three minutes. An innocent, sweet, amazing child was crying, but also present and doing so amazing. He was trying his best. That’s why we go out to stores. So he and thousands of others can learn to adapt and handle the stress of things you are so blessed to not have to deal with daily.

Courtesy of Rachel Spurling

He is strong. Your words of yelling, ‘Shut up and be quiet!’ will never be forgotten. I feel sorry for people who are so unaware of amazing kids like my son. I’m sorry you felt the need speak to a stranger’s child the way you did.

But I’m thankful. I’m thankful my son does not understand your words. I’m thankful his twin brother and I did not hear you, because we were in the bathroom stall while he waited with his therapist. I’m thankful she did not tell me what I thought I heard was just a loud, mumbled conversation I couldn’t understand from where I was. I am still in shock. I’m thankful for you giving us more reason to go out into the world and share my son, who may be different, but is SO beautiful.

Courtesy of Rachel Spurling

I thought about not sharing this story, but it’s bothering me that there are people walking around in this world not knowing what a precious gift my son is. How hard he has worked the past five years of his life just to adapt to our boring society. So, in hopes you or someone like you reads this, maybe you can learn to adapt like he does everyday just for the three minutes, and understand that he or another kid like him is trying so hard to live a normal life.”

Courtesy of Rachel Spurling
Courtesy of Rachel Spurling

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Spurling of Quantico, VA. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘I loved him when he had words, and when he lost them. Through the sleepless nights, endless screaming, and walking in circles. I loved him even when he couldn’t say, ‘I love you.’: Mom to son with autism urges ‘all you need is love’

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