Ignorance can cause people to act cruelly. Rather than trying to understand a disorder like autism, they choose to remain uneducated.
Lisa Schramel has a little boy named Mathias who has autism. Mathias was diagnosed at age 2, but he began showing signs of the disorder at eight months.
“His milestones didn’t come easy. He didn’t speak until he was almost two-and-a-half,” said Lisa. “He’s got intense sensory issues. What he eats is always in a strict guideline and what he touches. The world is different for Mathias.”
With his sixth birthday coming up, Lisa planned a special party for Mathias and his classmates that would help him feel like a normal kid. She planned to rent out a movie theater so the kids could watch Thor.
In order to rent out the theater, they needed a minimum of 10 children to attend; but the day before the party, Lisa had still not heard back from a single child.
The heartbroken and angry mother went to Facebook to vent her frustration:
“Back in the beginning of October, I sent out invitations to his class. I gave the parents a couple months’ notice; it was an RSVP.
“It was going to be at the movie theater the day after Thor opened. Mathias was looking forward to it. The goal was to get enough kids, it was a minimum of 10, and we were willing to pay for that, it was no big deal.
“We waited to hear from people and weren’t hearing anything. We started looking at other options like a home party, and I went on Facebook to vent a little.
But then something happened that left Lisa stunned.
“That’s all I wanted to do, but it went from venting to all these people wanting to make his big day special.”
Lisa’s original post took on a life of its own. Within a few hours, dozens of people contacted her saying they would love to throw a birthday party for Mathias
Lisa was overwhelmed by the response.
“All these people started to offer to do these things,” the grateful mother shared. “It’s hard with an autistic child and hard to get people to understand that sometimes his behavior is difficult to deal with, but he has a good heart.
“All these people decided they wanted to come. I think about 218 people were interested in doing something. At that point, I had 15 hours to put it together.”
It does take a village to raise a child, doesn’t it? Going from no guests to over 200 in just a few hours is incredible!
The community of Alamogordo, New Mexico, planned a party for Mathias at the Alameda Zoo and more than 200 people showed up to help him celebrate his big day on November 4.
“We were surprised that someone had made five cakes and people ordered pizzas from Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s,” Lisa said. “The table was piled with gifts … we asked people to make donations to the zoo or animal shelter. Mathias thought it would be nice to donate gifts to the puppies and kitties, so he donated some gifts to the animal shelter and also Toys for Tots.”
Lisa is so grateful to everyone who stepped up to make her son’s birthday so special. She and Mathias will never forget their kindness.
Though she said she does understand why some of Mathias’ classmates might have been hesitant to come, she wishes more people would make an effort to understand her son and his differences rather than writing him off right away.
“Trust me – we’re doing our best,” she said. “When you have an autistic child, your hopes and dreams are different. You hope people are nice to him; you hope he learns to tie his shoe, you hope he learns to make food for himself. All these simple tasks that come easy to other children. I dream he has a quality of life outside of home and that one day he will experience normalcy.”
Hopefully, the kids in Mathias’ class will learn to show a little more kindness, compassion, and understanding. In the meantime, we are thankful for the kindness of strangers who made this young boy’s birthday so special and memorable!
Were you touched by what these strangers did for Mathias’ birthday? Then share it!