In a message on Facebook, his mom, Cortnie Stone said that last Thursday night, "some kids were talking about how 'it's weird' that [Gavin] is always by himself, attending events alone and watching people, and it was "creepy" how he wanted to be friends with people he didn't know." On Friday night, she continued, "another kid that overheard that conversation decided to take matters into his own hands and become judge and jury."
The kid, who Gavin had never met, "didn't ask questions, didn't get to know Gavin, never met him, and didn't give him a chance to leave. He was called to meet someone, surrounded by people he didn't know, choked, punched, and left laying on the pavement so he would "learn his lesson".
Luckily, Gavin survived the attack and is "fine," but rather than press charges, he had something else in mind. Instead, he requested the attackers' have disability-related community service, write a paper on Asperger's and watch a 20 minute video he taped while their families were present so they could see Gavin's injuries and hear his perspective.
"I am so proud of him, and I hope a lesson will come of this to all that hear about it," she continued. "If you are reading this, I hope you talk to your teens. Tell them about disabilities you can't see, teach them to be tolerant of people that are different, teach them that if they continuously see someone alone that maybe it is not their choice to be alone, remind them to ask questions first and get to know one another."
For those – like Gavin's attackers – who are still in the dark about Asperger's Cortnie also gave some background on his condition, saying, "we've had as many wonderful times as we've had difficult/frustrating times. You can't 'see' Asperger's since it's not a visible disability, it's a social/emotional one that makes relationships difficult to attain. It doesn't prohibit his movement, or ability to walk, but it makes everyday interactions with people very difficult. He can appear rude, impatient, "weird", detached, or uninterested, but this is not intentional. He can also be kind, generous, and forgiving, but even this can appear awkward at times because some of it is learned and not always natural.
"Keeping longtime friends is tough because of his tendency to isolate yourself," she continued. "Gavin has spent years learning what society thinks is appropriate and not appropriate, and so he doesn't offend anyone or stick out in social situations. Being a teenager with Asperger's is tough because all the sudden people around you are consistently "breaking" all the social do's and don'ts you've spent years learning."
It's no secret kids can be cruel, but, what is even more heartbreaking about this story is the outcome might not have been the same if the attackers had been educated on what it means to have Asperger's.
Kudos to Gavin for his bravery and for trying to teach them rather than sending them straight to jail (where they belonged). That takes a big heart.
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