When People Do Favors For Kids With Special Needs

You may have seen the viral video by now: Five-year-old Daniel of Ojai, California, has autism, and loves to watch the Monday morning garbage pickup. Driver Manuel Sanchez decided to buy him a toy truck. It turned out to be one he’d already owned, but had gotten broken.

Videos like these make the country sigh a collective “Awwww….” Sanchez definitely went above and beyond. But the truth, as parents of children with special needs know, is that it’s common for people to do kindnesses for our kids—both ones in their lives and strangers, too. This weekend, our family boarded a crowded train and Max desperately wanted the corner seat, which was already occupied. Sitting in a nook feels safe and comforting to him. The man noticed Max whimpering, stood up and sat elsewhere. Max gave him a huge “Thank you!”

I could go on and on about the kindnesses people have shown Max over the years. The guy at Cold Stone Creamery who always lets Max have his kid-size scoop in a gigantic cup, because that’s how Max likes it. The airport staffer at Miami International who whisked us through an endless security line as Max was freaking out. The puppeteer who noticed that Max was standing in back of the auditorium, because he was too scared to come up front, and gave him a private show after the crowd had gone.

The pity stares, I can live without. But these small gestures and favors are so welcome. They make life happier and easier for Max—and, in turn, for me as a parent. And they’re comforting, too. Raising a child with special needs can be isolating. Sometimes people glare at us when Max is having a meltdown because they don’t know he has special needs. Strangers who care make me feel that I’m not in this alone.

From my other blog:

7 ways to encourage play for kids with special needs (plus a Melissa & Doug discount)


Image: Screen grab/Autism Speaks video

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