Restore Your Faith in Humanity: How One Community Assisted An Autistic Man

Human dignity and the universality of human rights is good for the entire world. Human dignity is the belief that all people hold a special value that’s tied solely to their humanity. I promise this story will touch your heart or restore your faith in humanity. I will always fondly remember that afternoon. 

About four years ago our family was traveling back from our Florida vacation and stopped in for lunch at a Wendy’s restaurant in Eastridge TN. While Ralph, my husband, was in the middle of ordering our food, a man with autism (assuming, but quite sure) pushed his way to the counter, interrupted the clerk, and demanded a drink, throwing two dollars on the counter. The clerk said, “Wait please, I have to put your order in the cash register.” The young man was agitated and said “I want a drink!” Ralph turned to him and said calmly and reassuringly, “You will get your drink, you are up next.” 

Our order was complete. I turned briefly to get napkins and saw Trent, my autistic son, at the drink machine pouring too much ice and drink in his cup. The liquid ran over to the floor. Then the anxious young man who stood behind Trent did exactly the same thing with his cup. 

The young man seemed frustrated and changed his drink choices over and over again. A kind older gentleman offered the young man assistance to make a drink choice. The young man finally settled on a decision and thanked the older man for his help. 

Our family sat next to the table where the older gentleman was sitting with his family. I introduced myself and told him I watched how helpful you were with the young man. I told him how much I appreciate people like you, assisting someone else in need. I explained to him that my son has autism and I would hope someone would help him when needed just as he had helped the anxious man. 

Ralph went to the counter to get our food and the anxious young man was standing there. Ralph asked him if he could help him, and he said, “No I have my lunch bag on the table.” He then said to Ralph, “I am Joey.” Then Ralph introduced himself to Joey. 

The young man sat down to eat, but anxiously looked around. He had on a uniform. Perhaps he worked in a factory on a cleaning job and may have just gotten off work. I wondered if Joey was waiting for someone to meet him there for lunch.

Soon the manager came out to the dining room to where Joey was sitting. She kneeled down. She kindly offered him a FREE Wendy’s card. Joey said, “I don’t need it I have my own lunch.” The manager assured Joey he could use the card anytime. Joey accepted the card and said thank you. 

When we left Wendy’s, I thought about all the different people in the restaurant who acknowledged Joey’s anxiety and instead of judging him, they tried to help him. I thought about all the media stories I heard about things going wrong because people refused to help. The people in the restaurant stopped and listened to Joey’s request, offered assistance, and talked to him with kindness. I saw people that afternoon accepting him with dignity. That day, that one community, reached out and showed their humanity for this man. 

I have been working diligently for the past several months creating a new course to improve emotional adaptation of youth to school or work. New Course, Get 6 CEU – CRCC.  See What’s Inside?

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Dr Jackie Marquette

About Jackie

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It is my hope to empower youth on the Autism Spectrum to explore their strengths, abilities and interests, and to find the predictability and courage to go after what they want. When youth have opportunities and experiences to understand the connection between their emotions, the energy tied to emotions, and the value of the strengths/weaknesses, they are better prepared to move through obstacles safely, and to direct their life with adaptation. Furthermore, employers get greater clarity in supporting youth with a greater need for supports. 

Bio: Dr. Jackie has written five books and numerous student resources, i.e., digital and google applications to offer to educators and parents to help students grow and adapt. She invites students to learn how to use tools to discover their abilities, interests, need for supports, emotional awareness, and self-advocacy, all to experience easier adaptation to the workplace and enjoy daily living.

Dr. Marquette’s lived experiences have spanned over three decades as a special educator teacher, school transition administrator, author, qualitative researcher, conference speaker, an adjunct professor at Bellarmine University and an art business manager for her son. Most intimately she believes her lived experiences with Trent her autistic son has given her the deepest insight and greatest learning.