‘He cannot speak. He plays differently. He may not look you in the eye. Every day, I wonder, ‘Did someone play with him in the schoolyard?’: Mom says ‘thank you’ to young boy for acknowledging autistic son

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“To the little boy who said hi to my son in the schoolyard,

I want to say thank you.

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

Thank you for making me see that he is seen.
Thank you for making me see that he is being accepted.
Thank you for making me see that he is being included.
Thank you for making me see that he will not be alone.

To most people, a gesture like this is an everyday occurrence. But not for my little boy.

You see, he is different. He cannot speak. He doesn’t look to make friends. He plays differently from others. He may not look them in the eye or ever look at them at all. My little boy may never gain their attention, or want to for that matter.

You see, he is Autistic. He is nonverbal. He flaps his hands when he is excited. He squeals when he is happy. He walks on his tippy toes when he is stressed. And his world is a place I would love to be part of.

When he was younger, I imagined him having sleepovers, going to football games with a team. I imagined him telling me all his friend’s names. Asking for playdates. I imagined him being the popular kid.

The reality is, he doesn’t have many friends. He doesn’t want to have them. He likes his own space, his own things.

I wonder, every day: did someone play with him in the schoolyard?

Did he make a new friend?

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

I wonder could he join in the game’s other kids play or is it too much for him? I always worry that he will be the kid on his own, and while he may be just as happy doing that, as a mom you never want that to be your child.

I always wonder when he meets the mainstream kids in the schoolyard. How he is treated? Is he seen as the weird kid? Do they get his stims, his quirky little ways? Do they understand him? Do they want to play with him?

I worry.

I worry each and every day. Because no matter how much we want to protect our kids, at some stage we have to set them free. Set them free to take on this big bad world. And boy is it a scary place.

‘Hi Riley, see you in the yard’.

This one sentence made me beam from ear to ear.

At that moment, I knew that my little boy was noticed. My little boy had a friend. A friend who took the time to learn his name. A friend who sees no differences. He had a friend who wanted to play with him, who looked forward to seeing him.

At that moment I knew my little boy was OK.

To the little boy, I am sorry I didn’t get your name. Riley couldn’t tell me what it is, but I bet you he knows, judging by the smile that came on his face when he saw you.

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

Thank you for being accepting, for being understanding.
Thank you for being a typical little boy, who just wants to play.
It is clear you are going to grow up to be an amazing person.

You are six, maybe seven years old, and already know more than a lot of adults about inclusion. Inclusion in the way we, as moms to kids with special needs, would want the world to see them. They are no different from you or me. They want to play. They just do it in a different way.

So, thank you, for making my little boy smile. For taking my breath away. Thank you for giving me that feeling in my belly that he was OK.

Because with friends like you around, I won’t have to worry anymore.

Thank you for being you.”

Courtesy Nicole Duggan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole Duggan, 31, of Cork, Ireland. Follow her on Facebook here and Instagram hereDo 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.

Read more stories from Nicole here: 

‘No, no, don’t sit next to him darling, move away.’ This sentence cuts like a knife. It shatters my heart into a million pieces.’: Mom of autistic son wishes no other parent to ‘experience this ignorance’

‘How did you know?’ My little baby went completely silent, no words, no babble, nothing. There were warning signs, we just didn’t know.’: Mom’s journey with autistic son

‘Do you work?’ My answer was no. I thought about that last night and realized, I was wrong.’: Mom of autistic son reflects on 24/7 job of being a special needs mom

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