Updated: Jun 8
I dropped everything when they informed me about “the incident” at school that day.
When we arrived, the teachers shared that Blake had gone into the middle school bathroom alone. The Boys’ Room was an acoustic wonderland. The sound bounced around and provided a beautiful surround for our vocalist. In his little stall that day, he began to sing a familiar tune. (In my mind, I could hear him belting it out at the top of his lungs as if he were on Broadway.) A handful of boys soon entered and seemed amused by the solo concert in progress. They began teasing him loudly, harassing him from atop nearby toilets, and banging on the walls of the stall.
Autism is no stranger to bullying. In fact, one study shared that over 60% of special needs children experience some kind of bullying in their life. Just last week I saw a news story that appeared about an autistic young man from Maryland who was videoed using the bathroom at school. The footage was then shared via social media on a live feed. That clip struck deep as I watched this young man's parents share their heartbreak and disbelief.
As a lover of music and singing, Blake had sung the lyrics from songs long before he ever spoke his own, original words. In the early days, we sang everything to him. It was our little way of connecting to his world. We almost daily changed up the words from familiar Disney tunes to match the task at hand or our schedule. It made sense to him. Music was our gateway. So, when we learned “the incident” involved his singing, it was not a surprise.
For years, we had prayed for a meaningful friend for our autistic son. That year at the middle school, a young man in Blake’s class befriended him. He was a sweet and gentle, squirrely little fellow. We shall call him Myles.
Myles shared space sometimes with Blake in their special classroom. With his small frame, he might have appeared almost frail. Myles had thick glasses and his tongue did not cooperate with his words. It was hard to understand his words when he spoke, but he was so cheerful and animated, we found him most adorable. The best part was that he seemed to enjoy spending time with our son, so we loved Myles all that much more.
Myles had finished his lunch and innocently strolled into the middle of “the incident” that day in the bathroom. As a mom of a special needs child, I found what happened next to be epic:
Knowing that Blake had entered the bathroom just a few minutes before him, Myles rounded the corner into the chaos. He paused for a moment; amidst the ruckus, he noticed Blake had grown quiet. Our onlooker burst out of the bathroom and fled into the crowded cafeteria to find the nearest teacher. In his most urgent way, he tried to express the need for help. In the time it took for help to respond, all of the hecklers were gone. Blake stood alone and silent in his stall.
While the scene had been jarring, Blake seemed to recover quickly and we took him home. But Myles was asked to spend some time that afternoon with the administrative staff at school. Before the end of the day, this dear young man had literally pointed out each and every single one of the offenders to the principal. We were so thankful that the administration took this situation very seriously. We never experienced another “incident” again.
A smile radiates from my face each time I reflect on that day. I'm still amazed in wonder that what lingers in my heart is not the ugliness of the situation or the hurt we felt for our son. Although, that is a very real shroud over that day. Somehow, what truly shines in my heart is gratitude:
We had asked the Lord for just ONE friend for our son and instead,
God chose to send us…a HERO.
God gifts some friends to us for a lifetime and some friends for only a season. Our season with Myles was brief. I was curious to find out what he had been up to, as we lost touch with him and his family. What I discovered, to no small surprise, is that he is still bravely taking on the “bullies.” Little Myles grew up to become a bull rider in a rodeo circuit in South Carolina.