Letter to the Editor: Incident at Giants Despair Hill Climb points to need for autism awareness

My son and I were at the most recent Giants Despair Hill Climb. We love seeing the cars race up the hill; it is really a good time!

We were about halfway up the hill, between the starting line and the first turn. While there, a car alarm went off. Big deal, right? For most people this is “white noise,” but for someone with autism, this could be a problem – and this day it was.

My son has autism; the car alarm set off something in his head. I don’t know why or how, but it happens, often. My son got scared.

When he was younger and got scared he would start hitting whoever was closest. Thankfully, he does not hit anymore. However, he learned some profanity and screams at the top of his lungs. Don’t get me wrong. I am not condoning foul language in public, and no one should have to hear a line of profanity. Unfortunately, I am not magic and it takes a lot to calm down my son.

I just wanted to get him out of there as fast as I could. I held his hand while walking down the hill. A guy started yelling at me to stop the cursing. Take my word for it, if I could stop it, I would.

So now I have a son in a panic and a guy chewing me out. I advise the guy my son has autism. He again stated his case, advising us he doesn’t want to hear that language and I should leave. I told him we are leaving. He had to get in the last word, telling me I better leave.

I really needed help. Sometimes all it takes is something, or someone, to take his mind off whatever is making him scared. But I was getting it from both sides. I would have done anything at that point, with my son drawing attention and another person adding salt to a wound, to be able to disappear.

My point to all this? More needs to be done for people to understand autism. Please take some time and read about autism, and maybe you can help.

Bill Malarkey

Hanover Township

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