In July this summer, Eliese walked out of her home to find her car vandalised. Eliese has a 5-year-old son named Kyler and on the back of her car there is a sticker that reads – “Autistic child may not respond to verbal commands”.
There has been a lot of talk about putting up stickers in neighbourhoods, homes, cars, schools to make people aware that there are children/adults on the spectrum and to alert them – in case of an emergency – that they will have to handle the situation in a certain way. One end of the community says we shouldn’t discriminate against the kids and why should we put big yellow warning signs all around them. The other end says they are tired of having to deal with ignorance and just want to give in. The other end says that we should definitely be allowed to put up warning signs for the safety of the kids, in case guardians are not around.
Nevertheless, back to Kyler. The sticker was surrounded by other handmade stickers that read “Spoiled Brat” and “Undisciplined” – one of them even said “Unetitled” which I’m guessing is either ‘unentitled’ misspelled or benightedness as to what the word actually means. Either way this person could use a dictionary for Christmas.
Eliese has said that Kyler was diagnosed with Autism and three additional disorders over the span of five years, leaving him with developmental problems, inadequate verbal skills and poor understanding. I wonder if the culprit knew – or even asked – before making these assumptions. In fact, I wonder how many people from her community knew – or even asked. Eliese searched for the culprit without any luck. She filed a police report with the police about the vandalism. She had only moved into the neighbourhood a month before.
It might seem shocking to you that people would say this about a kid but my family has been stared at, told to take control of Christos; one woman even took the initiative to yell at him on a plane and tell him to listen to us. Thanks stranger – we would have never thought of asking him to listen. Christo was even banned from a supermarket once because he was putting all the chocolates in order. Sure, the anger makes your ears melt of your face and you feel that you want to scream and that you’re drowning at the same time. How unfair, how utterly selfish of one human to think that it is okay to tell another human how to parent their child. And yet, autistic child or not I am sure if you’re a parent you’ve come across this before. Human nature is the worst and best thing about us.
Eliese probably had that sticker on her car because one day a crippling fear overwhelmed her when she heard about other children with Autism being mistreated (Preach & Teach, Seventeen Candles). Because she thought of the possibility of getting into an accident and strangers or the police trying to help Kyler. The feeling that you are the only person who can deal with your kid is so lonely, it’s so desperate. Putting up that sticker was brave – it was a parent pre-empting the unpredictability of life. It was a message she had to put out there for Kyler’s safety, future, well-being for when words are not an option.
To Eliese: You’re both so much stronger than you realise; you will find a way to communicate one day.
To whoever did this: I hope you never get caught. I hope you get away with this for the rest of your life. I hope you never feel proud enough of this action to utter it to another person. I hope you carry this secret forever. I hope you see Eliese every day, the way she struggles, the way Kyler struggles; I hope you see them get stronger every single day. I hope that writing those words was your lowest point. I hope you never have to deal with Autism, because you’re not big enough to handle it. I hope that one day your ignorance will fade and will not be passed on to others. I hope your action shows the world how small your kind of thinking is. I hope it makes them read, and learn and smile when they see a kid throwing a tantrum in the middle of the road. I hope police officers are more careful with dealing children because of what you have done. I hope they talk about Autism training. I hope your community stands by Kyler throughout years to come and that they tell other people about Autism.
Kyler - taken from Google.