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Letter: Please be respectful of children with autism

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Mary Sharpe


On the evening of Feb. 7 at Wal-Mart on Whitfield Drive, my grandson was having a very bad meltdown. People stared and whispered about him and shook their heads. My grandson is only 6 years old and weighs about

70 pounds and stands almost 4½ feet, but is as big as a child of 9 or 10.

One lady stopped and said, “He sure is making a lot of noise,” like we didn’t know it. My grandson is a very intelligent child, deals with issues that go with being a “smarty pants” and does not know how to handle his feelings when so upset.

You see the child that was throwing that major “temper tantrum” was having a meltdown. He has autism. That lady said, “Oh, I am sorry,” and I said, “I am, too, that people do not understand when they comment on how they are behaving and do not know the child.”

It is a different struggle every day for children with autism. They are all different and have different issues. Some can do art, music, math, read, but they may only do one thing very well.

They are very intelligent in different subjects, but they have a hard time explaining how they feel. They lack social skills to deal with others, cannot look you in the eyes and may be known as a late bloomer. But each one of these children with autism has feelings just like you and I, and they hurt like us.

I was always told that if you can’t say something nice, then do not say anything at all. It is hard on the families to deal with autism and do not add to that by staring or making unkind remarks.

No, I am not sorry he has autism. He is the light of my life, and I wouldn’t trade him to be your normal. He has been reading since before he was talking, counting then, too. He is amazing. Just ask all his teachers and principal.

They cannot believe a child can be this smart and know so much. So you see I am one proud grandmother who should have told you to mind your own business.

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