Woman Calls Cop on Mother with Autistic Son, Learns Lesson That Impacts Rest of Life


It’s not easy to let go of past mistakes. They have a way of consuming our thoughts even years after the mistakes were made.

Megan Orr Burnside hasn’t forgotten a mistake she made years ago. Fortunately, her mistake ultimately led to a meaningful realization that has impacted future interactions with struggling moms.

Dec. 7, 2017, was one of those mornings when Burnside’s mistake weighed on her heart, according to her Facebook post. She thought back to the moment she and her husband were at a Tennessee gas station years ago.

Their attention was drawn to an angry and violent interaction between a mother and son. Burnside guessed the boy’s age to be about 10 years old.

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The mother fought to get him in the car, and physical fighting continued in the car. Though the boy was hitting his mother, Burnside and her husband believed she was hitting her son back so they called the police.

They felt comfortable to leave once the police arrived. Burnside’s comfort in the decision to call the police quickly diminished when they later called her back to give an update.

Burnside wrote on Facebook, “We then got a call and they told us that the boy was autistic and she really struggled with him, and she had even asked for the police’s help in the past to deal with him because he was very violent…In my eagerness to protect the child, I neglected to offer help to the mother.”

Years later, Burnside saw her chance to redeem her mistake. She would not neglect help to a struggling mom in public again.

A mom was standing in the checkout line at a thrift store with her two children. Burnside, along with the rest of the people in the store, couldn’t help but notice the mother’s frustration.

In fact, Burnside described her as “angry and explosive” in response to her one child being fussy while the other was pestering her about getting certain items. Burnside didn’t want to remain an observer to the struggle so she stepped in.

She placed her hand on the fussy toddler’s feet to help calm him down and listened while the overwhelmed mom shared her challenging night-shift work schedule. Burnside held space for the woman’s tears after reassuring the woman that she was a good mom.

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“It’s time to stop judging each other and start helping each other, or we will only perpetuate isolation, depression, addictions, violence, and suicide. When people are overwhelmed they need help, not condemnation,” Burnside concluded.

She acknowledged that there are circumstances when it is appropriate to alert the authorities, but compassion can go a long way. Burnside learned an important lesson about the power of connection and support after realizing her mistake at the gas station.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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