A military dad asks: What child do you see?

Autism: What child do you see?

There is nothing wrong with theses children, they are just trying to get by themselves, like everyone else.

By Jeffrey Sabins

Let me ask a quick question. When you think of a child with autism which one in the photo do you see? Don’t feel bad, don’t feel judged, just be honest. No one will know, unless you say it out loud.

Autism: What child do you see?

Just think about it as you walk through the grocery store and you see a child throwing the massive tantrum down the aisle. Is it enough to make you turn around and go down another? Or you may be at the restaurant and there is a child crying at the table and throwing their plate. Or even at school. Everyone is staring and the mother or father apologizes and says those famous words, “We’re sorry … he/she has autism.”

Because you see I’ve seen this so many times. Now it’s just a normal experience. I mean, for goodness sake, we’ve been on the other end. We try very hard not to walk around saying sorry because my son Carter has autism. For us, as long as he isn’t hurting anyone, we’re not going to apologize for his humming, or stimming, or for what others see as weird. Unless he is breaking personal space, he is content and we let him be that way. Not to mention, Carter has a pretty massive scar down the back of his head, so people usually don’t say anything and do the quick sidestep when they are walking near him.


This morning Carter wanted to go to the store with me when I went to grab a coffee. He asked to go and I never say no. Carter never wanted to go anywhere with me before my last deployment, and since I have been home he asks to go and I always enjoy his company. The kid can sing pretty good, and I can listen to him for hours in the car. Not to mention the father-son time is something I always cherish, especially since I don’t get much of it.

Well, at the military base store this morning, we were waiting in line to buy our drinks, when an older gentlemen came in. Carter wasn’t more than an arm’s length from me, and was walking in circles humming and playing with his hands. There was a lot of Marines rushing around trying to get their stuff before training, and he was a little nervous. As the man tried to walk past him, Carter made his turn and accidentally walked in front of him. Well the man looked at me right away with this evil look on his face, you know, the one that says “You gonna grab your kid.” When I just smiled at him, he looked back at Carter and saw his scar, and started apologizing to me, like he did something wrong. My response, “Sir, there is no reason to be sorry, we’re just buying some drinks and enjoying our morning.”

You see, there is no need to be mad, hateful, or rude.

Everyone is just trying to go about there way, and live life. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I get upset and lose my temper. Recently, Carter was getting his military ID card since he turned 10. The lady was trying to get his picture for the card, and we were working with Carter to get him to not be so fidgety. Well, she finally said, “Kid, what is wrong with you”? This statement set me off and I made a few responses to her that made her immediately regret what she said and apologize a million times. There is nothing wrong with theses children, they are just trying to get by themselves, like everyone else.

So again, look at the picture, and what do you see? If you see the child on the left, no one blames you. That is what a ton of people see. Crap, that is what I saw 15 years ago. The point of this article, when you see that kid on the left, try to think about the one on the right. Instead of skipping the aisle in the grocery store, go down that one and give a quick hello and a wave. You might be surprised what you get back.


Jeff and his wife

Jeffrey Sabins is a United States Marine who writes content articles for several veteran companies. Jeffrey and his family now runs the website www.fromtumor2autism.com about their son Carter attempting to spread communication and collaboration. Jeffrey also has started writing his first children’s book and is developing a future e-book on leadership mentoring.

This was originally published on Jeffrey’s website here.

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