The reason we cry when someone is nice to an autistic child

kiss cheeseburgerRecently a photo of a girl kissing a cheeseburger went around the internet like a lightning bolt, shared by millions and adored. I won’t get into the whole story but you can read about it here.

Most people loved the story while some others questioned, why is it that we cry just because someone is nice to an autistic child?

Stripping away our desire to have this happen with our own children, it’s a fair question. No one cries when someone does this for just any child. No one even makes it into a story and it certainly doesn’t go viral.

Is it because we’re supposed to feel pity or sorrow for autistic children? Is it because autistic children are poor little defenseless lambs in comparison? Is it because autistic children are viewed as the underdog and thus needing special treatment and we just love to hear that they get it?

Or is it because it simply does not happen? At least to us.

When you have a child with autism, you feel the stares as your child behaves in ways that others may not understand. We feel the judgments as people think we’re terrible parents while our child suffers a meltdown.

More so than that, we know full well just how cold people can really be when we ask for something as simple as an uncut burger and they huff, roll their eyes, refuse to appease us or do appease us but do it with an obvious amount of disdain for what we’re putting them through.

It’s because we know what it’s like to have to just up and leave a nice lunch out because someone refused to simply do something we needed and our child erupted into a complete and uncontrollable meltdown.

It’s because we know just how powerless we are against bitter, unhelpful and even rude people who simply do not care about you or your child.

So when we see someone, not just someone but their manager and other co-workers and an actual group of people who go out of their way to not just be understanding but to do something special, no matter how small, or how big, but to just do something they never had to do at all… it’s a tear jerker. It’s a shot to the gut… because we want so bad for someone, anyone to just be kind enough to do that to our own child. Just once.

Because trying and trying and trying to find someone who’d simply show us and our children just a little bit of compassion… we keep coming up empty.

And in this one photo, this one story, this one simple act… we find it.

In that instant, we have renewed faith. In others. In ourselves, that one day we’ll find someone like that too and should never give up. And most of all, in humanity.

There are kind people out there. People who won’t ask me to leave. People who won’t judge me. People who won’t grunt as I make a small request of them on behalf of my child. People who will not just accept that my child is there but actually make an attempt to make my child happy… no matter how silly it may seem.

There are people out there, who care.

Today, right now, in this world, that’s a nice thought. It’s comforting. There’s hope.

They’re happy tears.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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9 Responses to The reason we cry when someone is nice to an autistic child

  1. Katrina Moody March 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Amen, Stuart. Once again you find a way to put words to what so many of us feel. I don’t think it is only because of this for me, but this is a large part of it. It’s so hard to feel isolated every day because it’s hard – it’s HARD – to take three guys with autism out and about. We have amazing and sweet people in our neighborhood and town, but it’s always been a challenge getting out with all three of our boys without running into *one* of those people. You know, the ones who sneer and/or look down on us when they see us or hear one of the boys or see one of them.

  2. Marita March 29, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    So true. It is the small kindnesses that make such a huge difference.

  3. Cas March 30, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    My ASD daughter hit another child (on the arm, more rude than painful) in a holiday activity full of average NT kids. The other child’s mother came up to me, politely asked if I could talk in private, and then told me what happened. I apologised mentioning my child’s ASD (but that I’d still talk to her) and asked if her son was okay. The other mother then apologised to me (!!!), said she’d worked with ASD kids before and not to worry about it, and that she’d explain it to her son. I cried with appreciation.

  4. hannah March 30, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    I love this, wonderful..just posting an interview with the UK’s National Autistic Association on HuffPost. Will send link when published

  5. Looking for blue sky March 30, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Kindness always makes me cry too x

  6. Carol March 30, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    As the grandmother of a wonderful teen with autism, I agree with every word you wrote. Thankfully, in her case, I do have to say I have encountered much kindness. She volunteers at my hospital and has more friends than I can name. Today I am going over someone’s home because they want to donate 80,000 sky miles so my daughter and granddaughter can go on a trip together. I think we all need to work on being kinder to each other, your article is a great reminder of that.

  7. Nancy March 30, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I have learned, people will always say they have compassion and love for people with mental illness, and that is one thing. However, showing it when there is a breakdown is a whole different ball game. You are on your own, and then the world gets smaller as we realize. we really are pretty lonely in this journey. There is a child in my grandchildrens neighborhood, who my heart aches for. He is extremely sensitive and inquisitive, and the heartlessness of many of the parents just tugs at my soul. He is avoided like the plaque and is never invited to anything. If we teach our children at a young age, to love and respect everyone, and explain compassion, the next generation could have it a little easier. I just don’t see that happening. But I can still wish and pray. Myown granddaughter lost her mom at 4 and still crys for her at 7. She is a very emotional child,, and does have meltdowns allot, and I wish to God sometimes I could scream at people, ” back off! You have no idea the pain this child feels!”

  8. Claudia June 7, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    I appreciate your sharing your feelings through this post. This helped me today.


  1. Why We Cry. . . | autismblues - March 29, 2013

    […] it moved a lot of people. And one of the best reactions to this story I have read comes from a man in Canada who has a son with autism. His name is Stuart Duncan, and he writes a blog called “Autism from a Father’s Point […]

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