Seven-year-old Reace Mercedes has autism, ADHD, and learning difficulties. He sometimes wears a device somewhat resembling a leash or reins attached to his backpack to keep him safe from running off in busy public places. Usually, Reace is okay with this arrangement, but a rude comment from a 14-year-old boy on a train has caused him to feel mortified and afraid to leave his house.
“We’d had a lovely day visiting family,” Reace’s mother, Christina, recalls. “It takes so much for Reace to want to go out, and the day had gone exactly how I had planned until this happened. We were only a few stops from home before it all went wrong.”
Reace and Christina were on the train from Glasgow to Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, when the incident took place. Christina says a teenage passenger looked at Reace in disgust and then said to her, “Do you know you’re not allowed dogs on this train?”
“It made me feel so angry,” says Christina. “How dare this ned come up and insult my innocent son for no apparent reason? Their rude, arrogant comment has affected Reace in ways they will never know.”
Christina reports that Reace was visibly disturbed and confused by the comment.
“He was saying to me, ‘Mummy, why did that boy say that? I’m not a dog.’ He was upset.”
Since the incident took place, Reace no longer wants to go to school or even venture out of the house. Christina says that Reace already struggled with social interaction and preferred not to go out in public, but now things are much worse.
“After the boy said it, Reace’s confidence was knocked,” she says. “He just wanted to go home and has now said he doesn’t want to go out in public again. It’s horrible.”
The world is slowly becoming a more accepting and helpful place to people with autism, but, sadly, there are still people out there who say mean things just to get under other people’s skin. We hope Reace and Christina are able to recover from this difficult encounter and surround themselves with people who love Reace for who he is. Share to show your support!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?