Mother Shares Powerful Message After Hearing Unkind Remark about Autistic Son at Doctor's Office


Christina Abernethy, a mom who manages the Love Hope & Autism Facebook page, is sharing her story of how comments made toward her autistic son can be hurtful in hopes that she can encourage others to think about the things they say a little more closely.

Christina and her husband, Jesse, have three children together: Selena, 16, and two 7-year-old twin boys, Ethan and Braidan.

As the boys began to hit milestones like sitting up, crawling and talking, Christina and Jesse began to notice that little Ethan was much further behind his twin brother and the other children his age.

Abernathy Family, Love Hope & Autism
Credit: Christina Abernethy / Love Hope & Autism

Their pediatrician told them that Ethan would eventually catch up, but that answer never satisfied them. Ethan was diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder when he was 3 years old.

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Ethan has received various types of therapy since he was 15 months old, most of which he still receives through his school. He was non-verbal until he was 5, but his communication is still limited.

“It has been a long and sometimes very difficult journey, but every appointment, therapy session, and meeting has been worth it,” Christina told Liftable, a brand of the Western Journal. “He continues to amaze us every single day!”

Luckily the entire family, even Ethan’s siblings, has been extremely helpful and built an amazing support system for him. Therapists, doctors, teachers and aides have also rallied around him to ensure that he can succeed.

Christina has even begun to advocate for inclusive laws like having adult-sized changing tables in public restrooms that will benefit children and adults like Ethan who have different abilities.

Even though she is extremely grateful for all of the support that their family has received, Christina told Liftable that there are still really difficult days.

Abernethy Family, Love Hope & Autism
Credit: Christina Abernethy / Love Hope & Autism

In her video, she shares that there are some days that “autism wins.” It’s something that has taught her and her husband to just take one day at a time.

“Some days are better than others and sometimes autism wins,” she told Liftable. “When I say that I mean no matter what we do to try to help our son, it seems like nothing works and we feel defeated. We feel awful on days when we can’t figure out what’s wrong or what’s bothering him.”

Even though there are difficult days, those days don’t even begin to define who Ethan is. Christina shared with Liftable that Ethan is happy, outgoing and loves to laugh.

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She said that he may have the biggest dinosaur collection you’ve ever seen and music has impacted him in such a big way. Most importantly, she said, “He wants to be and feel accepted just like we do.”

That is partially why she decided to start the Love Hope & Autism Facebook page; she wants the page to be a place of encouragement for families that have children with autism.

“I like to share our story and experiences to help people be more aware of what autism is, how it affects everyone differently and how people with autism deserve the respect, kindness, and love just like everyone else,” she said.

“I am hoping that Love Hope & Autism will help educate people about autism and in return lead to more understanding and acceptance.”

In her most recent video, she talked about a specific interaction at the doctor’s office.

Ethan had been having a particularly tough week. While they are not sure why it’s been a bad week for him, Christina recognized that it may be best for him to stay home with her to help re-establish some normalcy.

While they were at the doctor’s office for his twin brother, however, he was continuing to act out.

He was humming, pushing Christina, running, hitting and even yelling. Christina said she was just ready to leave, but as the receptionist handed Christina a note excusing Braidan from school she noticed how difficult of a time Ethan was having and told Christina, “Wow, he’s a lot. I bet he’s a handful.”

It was a comment that Christina said she is used to hearing, but on that particular day, those words really stung.

While Christina genuinely believes that this woman didn’t mean to be hurtful for her words, she thought this story would be a good reminder to choose kind words instead.

“It might not seem like that bad of a comment to some, but for me… and especially today…. it was,” she wrote. “There are SO many other things to say to a parent who is struggling … and to a parent of a child who is having a hard time.”

She gave perfect examples of what she would’ve rather heard at that moment, “Things like ‘I hope your day gets better!’ Or ‘I’m sorry he’s having a hard day, I hope tomorrow is better for you all’ or ‘are you ok? Can I do anything to help?’ These are all great examples of how to offer help and be kind.”

“We all have tough days and times when we are struggling,” she said. “My hope is that by sharing our story it will make us all think before we speak.”

“When we see a parent or a child having a hard time, offer words of kindness, offer a helping hand or use words of encouragement.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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