A Message for the Kind Woman in the Waiting Room With My 2 Autistic Children

Dear woman in the doctor’s office waiting room:

I know you saw me. In my yogurt/banana/snot-stained shirt, chasing my 2-year-old around as he climbed on everything and everyone (from chairs to decorations to unplugging the Christmas tree).

You heard me apologize and explain that my double stroller doesn’t fit in the treatment rooms, so the single stroller had to do, and only one child could be contained at a time.

You saw me desperately drain my phone’s battery playing “Curious George” to try to keep my kids appeased. You saw me switch up who remained in the stroller. You saw me then try and keep my 3-year-old from biting patients. From knocking the magazines off the table over and over again. From hurting himself as he stumbled around.

Then, as he climbed and flipped over the arm of the couch, half on, half off — I sawyou rub his back. I saw you play with his feet and make them “bicycle.”

I saw him calm, smiling. I saw you take his hand and walk with him. Hug him. Talk to him gently. I saw this as I desperately rolled the stroller around the room to keep my 2-year-old from screaming and melting down.

I smiled and thanked you. I made sure you knew he could bite. You were unfazed as you hugged my drooling and pinching toddler happily, making him laugh. As we were called back (after an hour-long wait), I thanked you so dearly and sincerely and let you know that you’re amazing. Then I saw you put your hand on my shoulder and say, “You are amazing.”

I felt the tears come from my eyes as I felt genuinely accepted and appreciated and loved by a complete stranger. I never even got your name. But you will never know the impact your kindness has made on this mother of two autistic children. Instead of the usual dirty looks and judgment, I got understanding and kindness — a rare thing in public when you have nonverbal autistic children. You understood. You didn’t ask what was wrong with them. It didn’t matter. You saw that you could help, and you did.

If there were more people like you in this world, it would most certainly be a brighter place. I thank God for you, and I know there are angels out there among us. Thank you.

Sincerely,

A mom who has never felt more accepted and understood

Emily Petrik

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