Today, I saw a scene that would have stopped you in your tracks, if only you knew what preceded it.
I witnessed a moment I wouldn’t have imagined in darker days for this girl. I won’t tell you how I know her story, because I know her parents aren’t looking to make her famous. There were no photographs.
What matters is what happened. And what happened stole my breath. Because this girl has been picked on — badly. She has suffered enormously with triggers causing behaviors that are alienating and confusing to others. She has no friends.
But today was amazing. Today, some kids who took the time to get to know her a little – kids who have no knowledge of autism, but don’t really require it because they are innately kind and cheerful – made her laugh. And watching her laugh made them laugh and smile and laugh some more.
They were three kids just cracking up laughing over something that was pretty funny in a slapstick kind of way. She laughed for a long time.
It was beautiful. Not in that “how sweet and heroic of him to take the autistic girl to the prom” kind of viral sweetness that draws you in, despite the lingering questions over what kind of romantic hopes the girl might have on Saturday morning.
Not in the way that whispers, “See what a wonderful person I am? I’m kind to someone you’d never expect. But I did this amazing thing. Let’s tell everyone about it and make her one day possibly reflect on how she is so different that only one selfless person wanted her company.”
I cringe over these stories. I do think that what many of these kids, celebrities, and strangers have done has been well-intentioned. It’s the way we share it that’s bothering me. It’s the way we gush over it and make special needs people famous for a day — because some person did what others would have considered unthinkable.
My problem isn’t the action taken. It’s the echoes left behind after we’ve marveled so publicly. The questions the girl may have about her own worth as a person — if the whole world went crazy over somebody being kind to her.
A little girl laughed today. I don’t have a video of it to share. But I can describe it for you.
An autistic girl who rarely smiled and interacted with others because of cruelty and the nature of her disability – laughed with other children today.