When the Gravitt family arrived at their favorite restaurant in Poteau, Oklahoma, they were looking forward to an evening of good food and celebration.
It was Melody and Ronald Gravitt’s 24th wedding anniversary. Their son, Ronny, is 14 and has autism, and the Western Sizzlin is his favorite restaurant.
However, a stranger’s rude and ignorant comments left the whole family with a bad taste in their mouths.
The Gravitts have eaten at the Western Sizzlin over 100 times. They always sit at the same table, and Ronny always gets the mac and cheese as well as mashed potatoes with gravy.
This time, however, when Melody was fixing up his plate for him, she overheard words about her son that she couldn’t ignore.
The stranger turned to the person next to her — while still halfway turned towards the Gravitts so they could hear — and said, “I can’t believe they let him out. He should be at home.”
The whole family was horrified. Melody was in tears. Melody approached the woman and explained to her that Ronny had autism, seeing an opportunity to educate and promote awareness.
The woman was uninspired by Melody’s explanation, and instead said rudely, “Well, back in my day, they locked people up like that.”
Ronny heard what she said, and doesn’t understand how someone could be so cruel.
“People were mean, and I don’t know why,” he said.
When the owner of Western Sizzlin heard about what happened, he had the Gravitts back for a do-over, and this time, their anniversary meal was cruelty-free and on the house. His grandchild has special needs, and so their story touched a nerve with him, too.
Melody hopes that their story will educate at least one person out there who isn’t familiar with autism.Whizzco