Autism has been in the news a lot recently and it’s not a coincidence. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2016 report indicates that autism has become almost twice as prevalent as it was in 2004. The complex developmental disability is categorized as a “spectrum disorder”. That’s because there is no one known cause and it impacts people differently.
One autistic boy in particular named Oscar has received wide-spread love. His mother, an English woman named Jen Goodland-Wyatt, knows all too well the implications of the disorder as her son, Oscar, suffers from autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In addition to the disorder, he also struggles with heart problems which make ongoing cardiological care necessary. Unfortunately, the combination of these two issues sometimes impose restrictions on Oscar, limiting his physical activity.
Goodhand-Wyatt took her son to eat at a local TGI Fridays in Binley Woods after a disappointing hospital visit where Oscar’s cardiologist informed his mother that he wouldn’t be able to participate in Karate due to his heart condition. After choosing a Star Wars themed table, Goodhand-Wyatt explained to restaurant staff that Oscar considers himself a “Star Wars-loving superhero.”
This is what made his cardiologist’s decision so upsetting – not being able to practice Karate was taking away part of the identity that he formed that provided him with a source of confidence. After hearing Oscar’s story, the waitress leaned in to deliver his menu and said to him, “I understand you’re a superhero – here’s your menu.”
Once the food arrived, a male member of the staff walked over with two balloon models in hand, fashioned just for Oscar. They also told him that he can order any English pudding he wanted from the kitchen.
A euphoric Oscar quickly chose the chocolate brownie. When his mother asked why all of this kindness was paid to them, the staff member simply replied, “Because he’s a superhero!” A response that indicates that the restaurant staff sees him more than an autistic boy. However, the icing on the cake came when the family saw the final bill. The restaurant staff had applied a “Superhero” discount, making the dessert that Oscar had received free.
Oscar’s mother explained, “it just goes to show that anyone can be anything they want.” It also demonstrates that a little kindness extended to someone can go a long way in making an otherwise unhappy day, a more positive one.