Kindness Counts for Autism and The World
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
by Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless It's Cake" - Blog 8
The spreading of hate around the world, is not a stranger when you look back on previous history, but now more than ever the spreading of hate has become a wildfire spinning out of control. In the darkest moment of American history, two raging pandemics have engulfed the nation and have made us more divided than we have ever been before: COVID-19 and Police Brutality/Racism. Never has there ever been a scarier time to be alive, where we live in a world where people are getting sick and are dying everywhere and people of color are more targeted by those dressed in blue, and one of those instances have led to the death of a man name George Floyd whose loss inspired an uproar of protests from city to city. It is easy and common to have a mindset that feels uninspired and discouraged. Lucky for us, there are stories about human kindness that reinforce the power of humanity as well as a reason to believe in it, especially when that kindness includes the autism community.
One example took place last year in 2019, when a simple act of kindness transformed a little boy’s life forever. Taking place at a skateboarding park in South Brunswick, N.J., 13-year old Gavin Mabes and his middle school friends were walking toward the park when they noticed a small boy name Carter Bruynell and his mother already there celebrating Carter’s fifth birthday. Carter is on the autism spectrum, and according to his mother, big groups of older kids can make him nervous, so she was ready to get Carter out of there as soon as possible when she saw Gavin and his crew walking toward them. However, instead of finding trouble at the skate park, they found something special beyond words. In an article titled How a simple act of kindness transformed a boy's birthday, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman reported that Carter’s mother Kristen gave a description of how Gavin and his friends treated Carter with kindness and love when she states, "Gavin is just going around with him and making him feel special. And the rest of his friends kind of followed suit and then started singing Happy Birthday to him…" she then continued on her reaction by stating, "That really blew me away, 'cause you just want to see the kindness in the world. And I wanted Carter to have a good birthday." This selfless act of kindness given by Gavin and his friends was so heartfelt and sincere that even local police officials were touched by it enough throw the kids a pizza party for their generous act of kindness. Since the birthday party Gavin, his friends, and Carter have all continued to remain close by spending time together whenever they can. For many, this shows humanity at its finest, but for parents, this is the ultimate reward for when you know you have been a good parent by seeing the works of it through your children. As stated by CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman, “…this was a moment of parenting utopia, where the only thing better than seeing your kid treated kindly is knowing your kid is treating others kindly, even when you're not watching.” Another example took place in Akron Falls Park in New York on Oct. 13 where a bride name Olivia Sparks and her groom were getting married. During the photoshoot, a little 5-year old girl with autism name Layla Lester ran in their direction and stole the show by mistaking Olivia for one famous animated character: Cinderella. Layla loves Disney, and especially Disney princesses, so when Layla first met Olivia in what looked like a princess ballgown, it was her dream come true. A little girl’s dream come true, was also the highlight of Olivia’s day as she told a reporter from WIVB4 News when she stated, “I was flattered. I was like in tears that she thought I was a princess, and it just made my day absolutely more amazing than what it already was…” in an article titled Girl with autism who mistook bride for Cinderella could meet all the Disney princesses. Since that day, Olivia and Layla have remined close as Olivia searched the internet on Facebook to find Layla and her family online. When she finally did, Olivia sent pictures of that magical day to Layla’s family in which their story spread quickly, and a friendship grew even stronger. Olivia visited Layla one Sunday morning to continue sharing their story bringing gifts and wearing her wedding ballroom gown. Layla’s mom expressed her gratitude for Olivia when she states, "She is the epitome of what a real-life princess would be. She's kind and she's sweet and she went out of her way to be nice to Layla…" This fairytale story of a girl befriending a real life princess touched so many hearts worldwide, that a GoFundMe page was made in honor of Layla in which money was raised to help Layla go to Disneyworld, where all of her dreams became true. Finally, on a website called Autism Journey, Author Stephanie is the founder of the website, and on her page a blog post titled Acts of Kindness, Your Stories, Stephanie gives anecdotal quotation from parents who have experienced acts of kindness towards them and their autistic child. One anecdote comes from a woman name Melissa, who is a mother to her four-year-old son Dimitri. They were in a grocery story when Dimitri noticed a pack of Pringles chips. He asked his mom if he could have some, but when she replied no, he threw a tantrum in which he slapped her face, pulled her hair, and scratched her. Feeling beaten down and defeated, Melissa was ready to go into full breakdown until she decided to pull herself together and distract her son. Suddenly, a man in his forties approached her and stated, “you’re beautiful and you’re doing a great job with your son. I get it.” Afterwards, he embraced her as he stated, “don’t give up, it gets better”. He walked away, but his kind words made a difference and it was exactly what she need to hear at the time.
In conclusion, 2020 is an unprecedented year full of death, sickness, and hate. However, within this chaotic mixture, love is still there as well. In this time of our lives, kindness has never been more present in any year than it is now. From helping one another with food supply, to raising money to helping the needy, and especially giving respect and gratitude to the essential workers who put their lives on the line everyday to help those who are sick, in need of food, or are in need of transportation. I do hope that after reading this blog, you will feel inspired to believe that despite the carnage overpowering America and other countries, humanity and human kindness still lives and breathes today like never before, especially in the autism community.