We all have things that make us special and unique. Some of us even face physical, emotional, and medical challenges that can often make us stand out to others.
Gemma Ryan’s two boys, William and Edward, know what it is like to be unique and to face challenges. Each of the boys is diagnosed with autism and Edward also has ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome.
Since both boys are on the autism spectrum, they exhibit ticks or behaviors as a result. These behaviors often help children on the spectrum deal with stimuli which can overwhelm them or cause distress. They are harmless to others, though they can seem strange.
For Gemma’s boys, they often make loud noises or flap their arms, and these behaviors draw unwanted looks, comments, and judgments.
Always mindful of both her boys and other’s reactions to them, Gemma took her boys to a play center during the holidays in hopes it would be less crowded than usual. Once her boys began to play her family received verbal and physical threats – not from other children, but other parents.
Her children were called “weird,” and one mom told Gemma she should understand her boys should not be there. Gemma confronted the woman and encouraged her to learn more about autism and the autism spectrum.
A little later a man brought his kid in to play. William and his child were getting along well when William placed his arm around the child. The dad became upset and began threatening physical violence against William should he touch the man’s child again.
Other people came to Gemma, and her boy’s defense and the man was asked to leave. This experience inspired Gemma and her husband David to coordinate an autism-friendly event called “Spectrum.”
This event had many events, and special features designed for kids on the autism spectrum and over 1,000 people attended.
“This event was somewhere families, parents and children could come to and know that if their child has a meltdown, nobody will tut or comment,” said Gemma.
Way to go, mom. You took a horrible situation and created something positive out of it. Great job!