‘I whipped around fast. ‘You leave him ALONE.’ He covered his ears, flapping his arms. The man snickered.’: 70-year-old woman thanks special needs mom for opening her eyes to autism, ‘You taught me patience and kindness’

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“I am a mom and my son Cooper has autism. This morning, I got the following email. To all the parents who wonder if they are making a difference by advocating for their children, here ya go.

Hello Dear Kate,

I have been watching your videos for years now. Ever since I started Facebook.

I am an old lady. Almost 70 years old. My children are grown. My grandchildren are grown. I live in a small town in the middle of America that no one has ever heard of.

I have never met an autistic person. Honestly, I didn’t even know the word.

I watched you talk about autism and I felt the worry and the love you had for your son.

I know you question if you are doing the right thing. Should you be sharing your son’s life? I know you question if you are actually making a difference.

Here is what I will tell you.

I watch your videos and read your posts and it’s hard for me to understand.

What do you mean he doesn’t talk? Everyone talks.

What do you mean he can’t go to the grocery store? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

In the beginning, I’d see some of the videos of your son and wonder why you just didn’t tell him no. Or tell him, ‘This is what we are doing.’ Because that is how I was raised. That is how I raised my children, with a firm, loving hand.

But I kept watching. I kept learning. You kept teaching me.

I’ve watched your son grow. All your boys, actually.

I cried when you cried and cheered when you cheered. And then something beautiful happened.

A group of my lady friends and I visited a local grocery store. We go every week on the same day at the same time after we have lunch. Only last week was different.

There was a man. A grown man. He had to be in his forties. Except, something was off about him.

A woman was leading him around. He covered his ears. He jumped and flapped his arms. He didn’t speak but he sure made a lot of noise. Which I know from your son Cooper were happy noises.

He took up a lot of space. Moving around us. Weaving in and out of the aisles.

Some of the ladies were annoyed. My own friends. I think it was because this man was slowing us down.

While his person waited to check out, he got very animated about the candy bars. I heard the woman talking to him through it. Just like you do, Kate.

The woman was calm. She touched his arm and whispered in his ear. I found out later the woman was his younger sister.

An old man behind us snickered and under his breath said, ‘Hurry up.’

I whipped around so fast, Kate, and I let that man have it.

I said, ‘Leave him alone.’ I told him off. I did it for Cooper, and I did it for you.

You helped me see, Kate. You opened my eyes to autism. I would have never known if it wasn’t for you. I would have lived my whole life never knowing about Cooper and paper and people who are different.

You taught me to be patient and to show kindness. I did that today.

Thank you for that.

I bet you never thought you’d reach an old lady like me and change her life.

Never doubt your purpose, Kate. You are educating people across the world.

Give Cooper and the boys a hug for me. Please keep sharing.”

Courtesy of KT Swenson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by KT Swenson, and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Facebook and InstagramSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from KT here:

‘A man who sits in the trenches with you and never leaves. I’d like to see that on a Tinder profile.’: Woman pens appreciation letter to husband who ‘never gave up hope’

‘My son makes fun of the autistic boy in his class and it’s hilarious!’ You could hear a pin drop. We stopped our giggling, and turned to her.’: Mom of son with autism raises awareness about adult bullying

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