At an amusement park, I wait in line with my 9-year-old client for a favorite ride. He flaps excitedly, makes little noises to himself. There’s a girl just ahead of us in line, about his age, with her mother. The girl looks at us with apparent curiosity, but not judgement or scorn or fear like some kids do. After a quick whispered exchange with her Mom, she turns to me.
“Is he Deaf?” she asks politely. I suspect she knows someone who is. I smile at her.
“Actually, no. He’s autistic. He can hear just fine, but he can’t speak.”
“Oh.” A bit of surprise there. She still looks intrigued. I look for traces of pity in her face and don’t see them. Good. I offer his name, and the Mom introduces the girl.
“Everyone’s got something special about them, right?” Mom adds, turning back to her daughter. She’s pretty…
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