'My little boy is just like your child. He is just wired differently'
We originally published this story in January of this year and it prompted an incredible response. We believe it's as relevant now as it was then and wanted to share it with you once again.
An Irish mum has written an open letter to other parents, asking them to try to stop and think before making assumptions about her son, who has autism.
Nicole Duggan, who shares her progress with her son Riley (3) on her Facebook page My Boy Blue, has made it her New Year goal to "make the judgers understand."
"When you find out you are going to be a mom, you dream of holding your little baby for the first time, you dream of dressing them up, showing them off and obsessing over their every move." writes Nicole.
"You dream of their first word, the first time they will clap their hands, the first time they wave goodbye and of course their first steps. All of the “normal” things.
Well in my house these things are far from normal. Yes we had some of them, but they have disappeared. Words were lost, milestones missed and many tears were cried along the way. This is not “laziness” on his part. It is not him being stubborn and it most certainly is not him acting up."
Nicole explains that, beneath the issues he has no control over, her son is just like other children his age:
"...he loves to dance, he loves to be cuddled, he cries when he falls, and he adores Mickey mouse. He is however “wired differently”." she says,
"The small things we take for granted every day are the hardest things for him to cope with. Different lights, sounds, smells or even the look of something can cause an overload that is too hard for an adult to deal with, let alone my little boy. "Normal things" such as going shopping, playing in a kids playzone, or even a hair cut can be unbearable for him."
Nicole believes a little understanding goes a long way and has made it her mission to spread awareness about autism, while making life as enjoyable as possible for her little boy.
"To the people that stare at him because he hums, join in with his little singsong, because in his eyes he is singing the best song in the world.
To the mothers that pull their children away from him, you are creating the bullys of the future. Children don’t notice the differences they just want to play, let them.
To the lady that called him bold in the supermarket, try to look at things from his perspective. An overload of colours and sounds. People whizzing past you. You too would cry your eyes out if you could not tell anyone how you are feeling when it all gets too much.
To the friends that have disappeared, I hope this never knocks on your front door. I would not change my small man for the world and if you cannot understand him and how he works, then you do not deserve to be in his life in the first place."
Children with needs are the bravest, most courageous and most amazing little people in this world. They are fighting battles nobody knows and I guarantee not one adult would make it through half of the obstacles they do. Just because there is not a physical difference does not mean they are simply bold.
So this year I ask you to think before you judge, live a day in my small man's shoes and you will understand how much of a superhero he really is."
You can read Nicole's letter and keep up to date on Riley's adventures below.