A Letter To The Mom Who Stared At My Child With Special Needs

By Ellen Seidman

Dear Mom On The Street Who Stared At My Son,

You didn’t notice me watching you staring at my son, but oh, I watched. You were headed toward us on the street, walking next to your husband, with a child about five years old trotting behind you. You were impeccably dressed, a shirt with red and white horizontal stripes tucked neatly into tan chinos, dark shoulder-length hair perfectly in place. My Max was ambling down the street and by that I mean, he was moving fast and when he does that he sways side to side.

He’d just had chocolate ice-cream, so he was very happy. He was also psyched to be out on a warm spring night with his mom and sister, cruising around town. He wore a navy cotton bandana bib that was wet; he’s been drooling more than usual lately. Cerebral palsy messes with your muscles, including your oral-motor ones.

You fixed your eyes on my son and did not take them off.

It wasn’t just a stare, it was a stare-glare. You seemed disturbed by the sight of him, the sight of a child. My child.

The stares I break down like this:

The curious stare: What is up with that boy? I can tell he has special needs, but I’m not sure what. Autism? The pity stare: Oh, that poor, poor, boy with special needs. How sad. Awwww. The exasperated stare: Why is that boy carrying on in a restaurant? His parents should not take him out if he’s going to act like that. What a brat. Continue reading

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