Jennifer Byde Myers
the cashier: Diapers eh? Expensive. I bet you can’t wait until they are out of those.
me: Yes, we’ll be rich. Uh, I have a special needs kid, so it may take awhile.
Oh, that’s hard.
Yes, mostly for him. He gets frustrated. But he’s doing great. He’s a great kid. He goes to the Amazing Autism Wunderskool.
Oh, autism. Is he high or low functioning?
Well, those terms really aren’t very accurate.
No. For example, there are some autistics who will go to college, but
may still have trouble putting their shoes on the correct foot. I have a
friend like that. Does that make sense?
Yes. I get it.
My son has a lot of trouble with communication. He’s non-verbal, so that
makes it more challenging for him to communicate his wants and needs.
Huh. I have a neighbor. He’s about 30. He lives with his parents. He’s very severe; lots of grunts and sounds.
That sounds like my kid. I say “profound” instead of “severe.”
Yeah, profound. Well he rides the same city bus I do, and there were
some high school kids on the bus too, and they were teasing him. I told
them to knock it off, and they did, for that ride. But the next time we
were on the bus it happened again, so I stood up and yelled at them. I
was probably a little more agitated than I had to be, but it made me so
mad. They had no right. He’s a great guy and they have no right. We go
to the same pool, and you know, when he’s there he is just so happy,
splashing and laughing. He makes us all have a great time. Then those
kids go and tease him, so you know what? I let ’em have it.
Wow, well thank you for standing up for him.
Well the bus driver thanked me too, but I didn’t do it to get thanked. I
just had to do it. It doesn’t take much you know, it doesn’t take much
to just say something.
The bus driver told me that those kids call me ‘the crazy old bitch’
now. But I figure it’s worth it. I’ll wear that name like a badge of
They don’t tease that young man any more.
A version of this essay was previously published atjennyalice.com.