Dear Store Clerk–

I understand that you only spend a limited amount of time with each customer that comes through your lane. You probably have to make some snap judgements just to spark conversation with those in your line. But please understand that sometimes you may judge too quickly.

You see, I was the Mom in your checkout lane this morning. Yeah, the one with the child sitting in the cart, even though he seems way too big to be in there. The child who was “happy screaming” (a.k.a. vocal stimming) quite loudly. I was the Mom with bags under her eyes from years of sleepless nights. The Mom who was very aware that I only had a limited amount of time in your store because of the lighting, sounds, and smells.

You saw me and my boy, the one with the iPad, and chose to say, “Wow! Someone sure is spoiled.” Then you shot me what appeared to be a disapproving glance, like if he was your child there is NO WAY you would let him have something like that. Part of me wanted to cry. Part of me wanted to punch you in the face.

You see, I spent countless hours writing grants to get my son his iPad. Not for the games or videos or music. Not so he could look cool to his peers. I wanted this device for him so that he could communicate with me, my family, and his teachers. I longed to know his thoughts. I longed to give him something portable enough to take with him and ease his anxiety when we are away from the familiar.

My beautiful son has autism. Verbal communication is extremely difficult for him, but he can type. And I am forever thankful for that treasured communication link. His iPad has opened a world between us that was closed before.

Guess what I’m trying to say is that before you deem a child “spoiled” for having a piece of technological equipment, take a second look. Look at that parent — she is wearing an autism lapel pin. Look at that child — he is working so hard to not lose it in your store. We are just people trying to get through our day and we could use your support instead of your disapproval.

my autism lapel pin

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