Dear Typical Parent,

Hi there! I saw you this morning at the bus stop, taking pictures of your kids in their new clothes with shiny backpacks and haircuts. My son was the little guy with a hole in the back of his shirt where he ripped out the label because he couldn’t stand the feel of it against his skin. He had last year’s backpack even though the zipper is broken, because it’s familiar to him and he was also wearing last year’s shoes because he doesn’t grow much and they feel just right. Kids with autism like things that are broken in.

I noticed your son’s shiny braces, too! My son needs braces, but he can’t get them yet. He’s had two surgeries to have teeth removed (not at the dentist’s office, but at the hospital because that’s where kids with heart defects have to go), but he needs to have even more taken out before we can think about braces. That will be surgery number 14…I think. I’ve lost track.

Your daughter was the one first to ask how old my son was; probably because she’s seven and taller than he is. See above, regarding heart defects. He gets a shot of growth hormone every day, though, so I’m hoping he looks like a nine year old by Christmas break!

At first he didn’t hear the question, because his new hearing aids are still on order. After she asked three times, your son was shocked after my son said his age, so I said, “No, really. He is 13.”

Your boy replied, “He’s so little. That’s weird” and it was awesome how you nervously laughed and didn’t correct him.

When your kids come home this afternoon, they may tell you that my son sang the entire time he was on the bus. Or, that he bounced in his seat, or that he did something completely off the wall like throw something out of the window. I hope you are like the parents at his first primary school and tell your kids that he may not be able to help it, but if you’re like the parents at his second primary school, I understand that your first reaction will be to call the school and attempt to get him removed from the bus.

I know my son doesn’t look like yours, act like yours, play sports like yours, eat like yours, or talk like yours. That’s because he is not yours. He is mine. He is unique and quirky and sometimes the most frustrating human being in the world, but he is a child. And, he’s a child who needs an education just like yours. He’s smart enough to score on a 10th grade math level, but sometimes he can’t get his actions and words to match what’s in his brain.

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Tomorrow, after you’ve had a chance to talk to your kids about inclusion and how every child deserves a chance to go to school I hope they will greet him with hearty hellos. I promise, if they do, I’ll do the exact same for you.

Sincerely,

Momo

 

    Comments

  • Amy


    BIG HUGS

    • Momo Fali


      Hugs to you, as well.

  • Melanie


    I hope Adam has the best first day ever! XOXO

    • Momo Fali


      Thank you, Melanie! Mwah!

  • Liz


    Maybe she will think about her response and do better next time? Sometimes I think about stuff I should have said, after the fact? One can only hope? Still. I love you and your kids.

    • Momo Fali


      That’s all we can hope for, right? That people learn from their mistakes and do better. I wish that for myself, too!

  • Tanya


    You are blessed to have an angel here on earth. Sometimes it takes time for people to realize the precious gift that your son is to all of us. Thank you for giving us perspective.

    • Momo Fali


      Thank you, Tanya. I am so blessed. Absolutely.

  • Jenn


    Just when I think it isn’t possible to love you any more, you write this and there you go. I love you and your family even even more. Let’s hope the parents learn acceptance and pass it along to their children. And Adam has a great year at school. xoxo

    • Momo Fali


      I love YOU more!

  • Jane Gassner (@Jane_Gassner)


    I loved this. It’s pitch perfect. You make your point, you don’t humiliate anyone or villianize them and–your kid sounds (and looks) pretty cool.

  • Vivian


    Diane, never,never, NEVER give up your writing!!! This is such a perfect expression of what it’s like from the viewpoint of the parent of an autistic child, and I can only hope that your letter gets read AND APPRECIATED by many parents, of both typical and special kids. And oh, yes, they are definitely special! I’ve been retired from the education world since 2008, and this is the time of year when I miss it most of all, to see the kids come back to school, all fresh and new from summer vacation, and ready to begin a new year of learning and growing. I hope Adam has a fantastic year, and having you as his mother will certainly help that happen. Love you, girl!

    • Momo Fali


      I love you too!

  • Laura Scarborough


    So much here is my life and my 13 year old son’s life. I read this to him and his response was perfect as he told me he’s glad he’s not the only one. Your son is a beautiful young man. Here’s to a wonderful school year for both of our sons.

    • Momo Fali


      Yes, here’s to all the non-typical kids! (And, the typical ones, too!)

  • Jenn


    Can we just print this out and include it with every PTA sign up sheet, ever?

    Hope you BOTH have a great year at school.

  • Zakary


    You are an amazing person. The end.

    xx

  • Pauline


    I love you, so, Momo, and I sincerely hope your sweet boy is the reason kids and parents at his school learn to open their minds and hearts.

  • Kari


    OMG YES.
    Thank you.

  • Victoria


    Love you

  • Erin


    Sharing this with everyone I know. School is so much more than high scores, new backpacks and shoes. I want parents to know this and teach it at home.

  • Tanis


    Adam and Knox. These boys of ours, man.

    Knox will be 12 this year. Someone asked his age recently, and when I told them, they scoffed. Because he is twee, and little and filled with magic.

    So I get this. I get this so much.

    Much love to Adam and to you. May this new year be filled with magic and kindness, grace and understanding.

    xo

  • Kathryn


    Beautiful post. We homeschool our son now but this is still so relevant. Our kids are beautiful and different and I wish people would be kinder. I hope your boy has a great year at school. Xoxo

  • Cara


    I am sorry if you feel that that would be the normal response from a “typical” child to your son. I am a special education teacher and have always taught my three sons about the differences that children may have and I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t respond like that. My hope is that, kids would have more empathy!

  • Jennifer


    How eloquently you express what so many of us go through at this time of year. Sending hugs.

  • Hope


    Good reminder for a typical kid parent. Your son is beautiful.

  • elizqbeth


    stopping By to give you my love and say:
    YOU ARE BOTH ADORABLE!!!!

  • AMK


    Adam❤️❤️❤️,

    GOD bless you with happiness & good health biggest hug baby ❤️❤️

  • Maybelle


    Well, anyone who has a typically developing child may not understand what you go through with your son, but then again, in spite of what Facebook Mommies would have you believe, it’s not always sunshine and lollipops being a parent, period.

    Your son has had more than his fair share (14 surgeries, argh!), but my (fairly) typically developing daughter also pulls the tags out of her clothes, hasn’t had a new backpack since she was four because the old one is still perfectly good (do some parents actually buy a new backpack every year?!), can’t attend a movie because they are “too loud”, at 9 still won’t say hello to people she’s known since birth, does not make friends easily with other children because she’s not interested in the things they want to do, and is extremely sensitive to even the gentlest criticism or advice.

    Your open letter gives the impression that you believe parents of typical-developers have everything coming up roses. But please don’t judge us without knowing us.

    Believe me, it’s just as hard being me as it is being you, and it’s just as hard being my daughter as it is being your son. It’s hard being a PERSON, and being a GOOD person is even harder. We, most of us, do the best we can with what we’re given.

    Best of everything to you and your family.

    • Momo Fali


      Oh, absolutely. Life is hard! I have a typical child too, so yes, I understand, but I can assure you it has been much more difficult for my son than it has been for my daughter. Night and day, really. I can’t even compare the two. She has typical challenges. He has typical challenges AND special ones, too.

  • Danene


    I love this and I love you guys ❤️

  • Teresa Featherstone


    I was so touched by this post. I am fortunate in that my child doesn’t have any physical disabilities. I do expect and try to teach him to treat Everyone as his equal. Kids in school can be so hard on each other. The tears were just streaming down my face reading this. I really think that as parents it is our job and obligation to talk to our children about people that may “appear” different and remind them that they may appear to be different for whatever reason but they are exactly the same when it comes to their feelings and wanting to be accepted and feel the fit in. Sometimes I feel that the parents need to be schooled as well. I wish you and your child only good and hopefully a more accepting start to this school season. God Bless and you will both be in my prayers. I as a mother of one feel not only for your son but for you as well…there is nothing more hurtful to a parent to see your child hurting especially when it is so needless. Take care!!!

  • vee


    Beautiful letter. It brought tears to my eyes.You should send that letter to every parent in his class so they can educate there children. Good luck. I hope your son enjoys school and meet new friends. -Vee

  • Mary


    This keeps popping up all over the internet today, so I read it. I agree that everyone deserves an education. Of course he’s just a child.

    So was the other boy at the bus stop, the one who says whatever pops into his head. Maybe he’s medicated, maybe not. Maybe his mom has to let some things go instead of running around correcting him all. the. time. Maybe he’s not typical. Maybe he has an issue that can’t be seen. Maybe he’s on the spectrum, too. Maybe he likes to bounce on the seat all the way to school, too. Maybe he likes to throw things out the window, too. Maybe you’ll be trying to get him off the bus by the end of the year.

    • Momo Fali


      Actually, I would ask him to come play with my son! I don’t blame the boy for saying it’s weird that my son is small. I want the parents to talk to him about trying to keep those thoughts in his head where they can’t seem hurtful. My son has made PLENTY of comments just like that and every time he does, we talk about it. That’s all I’m hoping for is a conversation between parents and their children that inclusion is important.

  • W


    My son was always the smallest in his class, right up til he graduated from high school. Young kids were always commenting how they were bigger than he was, my son just told them, “that’s how God made me, everybody’s different, and that’s ok.” The nice kids accepted him the others, he didn’t waste his time with. We talked to him about being small was not anything to be ashamed about, when someone hurt his feelings we’d help him through it.He finally grew during college and he’s not the tallest young man but he’s just fine.
    I hope and pray all turns out well for you and your’s.

    • Momo Fali


      Thank you! That is exactly what he says! And then he tells them of the advantages of being small…like being tossed up in the air by his big cousin. 🙂

  • Jennifer


    WOW..absolutely great message. This is something I want to really instill in my children..my family. Thank You for this letter.

  • Mary Bolton


    Personally, I think he’s one good-lookin’ kid! I am hoping that his school year is a wonderful one, that the other kids and parents learn from having known him! I hope he makes friends. I have a foster grandson with Aspergers who is 22. My family has had him in our lives since he was 9! He has enriched us in so many ways!

  • Mike


    Thanks for the post. I wanted to share my feelings on Raising a Child With Special Needs. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/raising-child-special-needs-one-dads-perspective-mike-cook

  • Danielle


    I love this! So honored to stand beside you as a VOTY!

  • Julia Randall


    Love Adam! You are a wonderful mom! Hope all is well!

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