Laura Shumaker — Writer and Autism Advocate
“U are a loser, u have no friends,” read the text that prompted Matthew to call 911.
He called me as I was driving to meet a friend for lunch and told me about the text.
“I feel a bit sad and a bit scared,” he said quietly.
Matthew, as many of you know, is 26 years old and has autism. He lives in a community near Santa Cruz with other adults with developmental disabilities. When people ask me “how severe” he is I take a deep breath and tell them they would really like Matthew. He’s friendly and earnest, and will ask which version of the song “Oh Pretty Woman” you like best before he even said hello. He has a hard time making and keeping friends but has gotten better at it as he matures, and the friends that he has collected over the years are loyal and true-the best people I know. Still, Matthew opens the phonebook regularly and looks up people that he remembers from childhood and calls. If he get’s through, it’s usually to the person’s mother.
So when Matthew told me about the mean text message, and asked me to have the texter arrested, I thought it might be from a person that Matthew had called over and over and over again, possibly a wrong number, and left one too many messages.
“Do you want to hang out? Call me back when you get this message.” “It’s Matthew again. Please call me back. I want to hang out.” “I’m tired of leaving all these messages. Will you please call me back?”
For years I have coached Matthew that this kind of behavior was not OK. READ MORE >