The Kindness of Strangers: Parents of kids with special needs often talk about that look, the one that strangers give that makes it clear they know there's something different about your kid. Sometimes that look raises our hackles, when we're feeling all inclusive and hey my kid is just a kid like any kid what are YOU looking at. And sometimes, oh my goodness, we count on that look to buy us a little leeway; maybe we even prod our child to act just a little weirder so we can say, can't you tell this is a kid with a disability? Have a heart, whydon'tcha. The indignation in the first case is righteous, and maybe that makes us hypocrites for playing on differences in the second, I don't know.
But I do know how grateful I was when, at the community college my son will be attending, a passing custodian took in my boy's jumping and flapping and grunting and shirt-chewing and over-involved mother, sized up the situation, and reached out in the kindest way, introducing himself and his partner, getting my son's name, assuring him he would do great at school, and encouraging him to stop and say hi or ask questions whenever they saw each other. Maybe this thoughtful gentleman would have done the same for any random neurotypical, but I doubt it. It seemed clear to me that this was a specific outreach he does to the obviously odd. And I thanked him profusely for it. There are plenty of times we must revile the coldness of strangers. But it's such a relief when they're cool.