The first day of school is intimidating for some young children- adapting to a completely new environment can be very overwhelming. As parents, we hope their first day of school goes smoothly.
It can be even more of a struggle for a child with autism, because the upheaval of adjusting to an new, unfamiliar routine and environment can be really hard. For the parent of an autistic child, concerns about the first day of school can be even more magnified.
We all worry about how our kids are getting along without us when they head off to school. While we hope that they will succeed academically, we also hope that other students will be kind to our child, and vice versa.
A photo of a young boy holding the hand of a classmate as they walked into school together on the first day has gone viral, for its beautiful lesson in kindness.
When April Crite’s son 8-year-old son Connor arrived for the first day of school at Minneha Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas, he quickly became overwhelmed. Connor is autistic, & the bustling chaos of the first day quickly proved to be too much. He retreated to a corner outside of the building by himself, crying quietly.
It’s a heartbreaking moment to imagine. For April, it’s indicative of her greatest concern for Connor.
As she explained to Wichita news outlet KAKE, she has always worried that other students would treat Connor differently because of his autism:
I fear everyday that someone is going to laugh at him because he doesn’t speak correctly, or laugh at him because he doesn’t sit still or because he jumps up and down and flaps his hands.
Children can be cruel to one another, so April’s fears are valid. But her concerns were quickly put to rest after what happened next.
A classmate of Connor’s spotted him crying alone in a corner. Christian Moore promptly headed directly over toward him, and got right down on the ground beside his crying peer.
As Christian’s mom Courtney Moore explained to KAKE, Christian then walked with Connor toward the building:
He grabs his hand and walks him to the front door. We waited until the bell rang and he walked him inside of the school.
Connor and Christian weren’t close friends prior to this event; Christian simply saw a classmate in need & instinctively reacted to his peer with compassion. He felt empathy for Connor’s plight & offered the greatest gift: support.
It didn’t matter that Connor has autism. In fact, Christian wasn’t even aware of that fact. He saw another child having a hard time, & wanted to help. There wasn’t lengthy conversation between the two, either- just a simple gesture of encouragement.
And that simple gesture made ALL the difference for Connor. He explained to KAKE news just how meaningful Christian’s actions were to him:
He was kind to me. I was in the 1st day of school and I started crying then he helped me and I was happy.
It’s so beautifully simple; Christian was KIND. One human being to another, regardless of some of the societal issues that adults let affect their behavior such as race, disability, gender, etc.
This is just the kind of love that the world needs more of. We need to raise children that look beyond themselves to react with kindness to those around them.
As moms April and Courtney explained to KAKE, they are elated that their sons’ photo has gone viral because it reminds people that:
One act of kindness can change someone’s life, can change the world. That’s all it takes.