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One mother named Nicole Duggan speaks up of the issues parents of kids with autism face on a daily basis. She says how most people are harsh on everyone who is different and doesn’t fit the ‘norm’ imposed by the society. 

She says how she always knew her son Riley had the condition, but wanted to be 100% positive and took him to doctors who were to confirm the diagnosis. 

Nicole recalls one of the most unpleasant experiences she and her son have. Around Christmas some years ago when Riley was younger the two went to the mall to see Santa Claus who was placed in a grotto. 

As sweet Riley loved the grotto, he started clapping his hands, jumped up and down, and hummed and squealed. He acted like that because that’s the only way he can express his emotions, through sounds as gestures. Yes, Riley cannot speak, but people jump into conclusions without ever wanting to know other people’s story. 

Nicole was aware people would react to her son’s jumping and squealing, but she let him enjoy the sight that made him happy. 

As time passed by, more and more people started staring at Riley, but it was one mother’s reaction that made things worse. 

“I will never forget that woman. I will never forget the way she looked at my little boy. The way she stared. The look of disgust on her face,” said Nicole.

Riley than continued admiring the grotto sitting on a bench. A little girl approached and said “hi,” to what Riley answered with the cutest smile. 

Trying to tell his new acquaintance how he was happy to meet her, Riley started flipping again. It was then that the woman who stared at Riley got closer. As it turned out she was the little girl’s mother. She didn’t want her daughter to sit next to Riley and told her to move from him after which the two left.

But then the woman turned to Nicole and said, “Maybe you should try those special Santas. You know. For kids like him.”

Nicole didn’t say anything and let that woman live her sad and miserable life which was filled with negativity and lack of compassion. She felt bad for her son, but she knew Riley was stronger than those words. 

This incident showed how small-minded some people can be. Instead of teaching her daughter about appreciating and accepting differences, she made her go away from Riley and that’s really not the kind of world we want to leave in and leave to our children. 

Nicole still remembers this incident as though it happened yesterday although Riley is now older. 

Thankfully, Riley is surrounded by a loving family who always supports him unconditionally. They are aware he will be stared at by many people, and will hear words from strangers that will hurt his feelings, and only hope that things will change in the future and our society will become more friendly to people who are considered different. 

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