TH recently was enjoying himself immensely in a game room along with a few of his cousins, playing ping-pong. He was excited, so doing his usual excited moves, along with the loud voice and grimacing that mark "Excited TH." Also present was a group of about four boys, all tweeny in age. Something about TH--and I wasn't there, so I can't even say what exactly that something might have been--tipped off at least the oldest boy to the idea that here was a soft target to mock. So, he mocked my son. My brother-in-law was there, too, but the boy at the time did not understand that the two were connected in any way.
This boy did his mockery not to my son's face but behind his back. He began to clap in a way that's difficult to describe in words, but that was meant to get across the clapping of someone with intellectual disabilities. Unfortunately for the boy, TH's uncle was there, and this uncle--my brother-in-law--stepped in and handled this little dipshit in exactly the right way. Fortunately for said tween dipshit, I was not there to step in because had I been, I'm afraid there would have been more than stepping involved.
In fact, I'm still so angry about it that I'm having trouble sorting out my feelings. I stand by my son. I think he's great, but I know that he still has autism. Why does it surprise me that some little bastard of a tween would detect my son's differences and decide to mock them in that way? Had I decided, in the comfort of family and friends and familiar places, that we'd somehow all gotten past such possibilities, such teasing and mocking and purposely leading on the gullible autistic kid?
The boy in question, the tween, was not a nice child. He perpetrated some other offenses later, and at one point locked eyes with the Viking for no apparent reason and, in the Viking's words, tried to stare him down "like a felon." I know that not every child is like this, but there are more of this little twit out there, and those little twits grow up to be big twits, otherwise known as assholes.
Sure, we can live out the day-to-day existence with acceptance all around us from people who know our son. But someday, that little tweeny future felon's going to be a teen, a young adult. He's not the only one in the world, and he locked onto my son and his differences with the sensitivity of a submarine radar. My brother-in-law was there to stop it. But deluded as I've been about how my son comes across to strangers, I can be deluded no more. What happens when children like mine, the ones who often can "pass," who are not candidates for specialized living facilities, encounter the assholes of the world outside the protection of those who love them?