One mother was left in tears after a stranger smacked her autistic son after the 2-year old pushed another kid down at the local playground.
Speaking to Kidspot, Florida mother Stephanie Hanrahan recounted the traumatic experience she had while visiting the park with her 2-year old son Eli. Her son has been diagnosed with autism and she explained he still struggles to navigate his surroundings and get along with other kids. But when the toddler pushed another 2-year old girl at the park, things quickly went sideways.
Stephanie says she immediately up to the girl’s mother to check if she was okay and apologize. She was expecting the fellow mother to be understanding that her son was both a toddler and dealing with autism. But in response, the girl’s mom “swatted” the little boy.
“After she batted my son’s hand away and ignored my apology she also told her child not to accept his,” Stephanie explained to the publication. Eli then tried to give the little girl a high-five, as Stephanie had been teaching her son to offer high-fives after becoming aggressive with someone. It acts as a “replacement behaviour” and a way to say sorry.
However, the other mother instructed her daughter not to accept the gesture. “His high-five was left unmet as the other mother shooed him away and said aloud to her young, impressionable toddler, ‘You don’t have to touch him, Honey,’” Stephanie explained.
Stephanie, whose 4-year old daughter Campbell also has autism, said she started taking her kids to the park as a way to “play with [their] peers” and to discover a sense of “acceptance.” However, this recent incident has left her so shaken that she can’t imagine taking her kids to the park anytime soon. The mom-of-two said she was so “crushed” by the incident that she immediately went home and cried afterwards.
To make matters even more heartbreaking, the incident occurred only the day after her son received his autism diagnosis. She hopes in the future, however, that people “push themselves” to be more accepting of those with an “invisible disability,” like autism.