I read a little message written by the dad of a 6 year old little boy with autism. It was a short message to his friends about their lack of inclusion of his son. I’ve seen it described as a rant. The message is laced with profanity and sharply directed toward specific guys. If you have yet to see it, you can take a read here or over on Twitter, the young boy’s mother posted the message and it has deservedly gone viral. Within the short message is encapsulated exactly the feelings of the special needs father. Through his words, I found a strange kinship with the man. It is a mighty and powerful thing when humans can see themselves in the circumstances of another. I will never meet this man but I am irrevocably attached to him because we share a brotherhood of experience and I so identify with his frustration.
One line of his message specifically shook me. It broke me right down to the ground because of the profound truth in the words and in the deep cuts that produced them.
“…he is not an afterthought, he is my every…thought.”
By far, the most painful reality and most prominent fear in the world of the special needs parent is that your child may never experience deep human connection. I can stand a great many things but the idea of the child that I love, with all that it is in me, being alone…isolated…friendless…disconnected, this is an idea that is simply unbearable. Even with a host of more emergent medical concerns that many special needs kiddoes and parents face, this is still the sharpest dagger that leaves the most vicious scars. This is the reason for the strong words of my friend, here. His message to “his mates”, the ones who should certainly know his heart the most, is a message of intense love and hope for his son. He cares nothing for vain shallow popularity. His only desire for his son is just one good friend; one friend to whom his son is not an afterthought. One true friend can make all the difference.
So, in light of this, may we train our children to be mindfully inclusive. May we teach them the habits of how to be a good friend. May we show them how to reject marginalization. May we help them identify opportunities for friendship. May we instill a genuine kindness in them. God help us.
P.S. – On occasion, we have encountered friends who have shown the most amazing love and inclusion to us and ours. They are like angels to us. Never forget the impact you can have by being a good friend.