I own a deli/convenience store in a very small town. Everyone knows my son Conner, and, believe me, Conner knows exactly who they are before they even get out of the car. The other day during our daily lunch rush, Conner was going about his normal routine. As I'm running the cash register, he works the crowd (everyone standing in line). My customers love every minute of it as well. Standing towards the end of the line is a middle-aged woman just watching every move my son is making. And as I'm cashing each person out in the line I'm noticing that she is now talking to herself about how this little boy's mother needs to come and get control of him. She just kept talking aloud so that by chance someone might agree with her. So, I just kept one ear and one eye on this situation going on with this lady. She just continued making rude comments about Conner. She went from one thing to another. "This boy is out of control. He needs to have a foot up his a** for how he is behaving." Now, mind you, I am trying to tend to my customers and still trying to pay attention to this woman. I'm getting very angry by this point. As she is getting closer to my register, one of my regular customers comes walking through the door. Conner, of course, goes running up to her and hugs and kisses her, then he decides to give everyone in line a hug and kiss and tell each and every one in the store "WELCOME TO (name deleted) DELI". I'm laughing as he is doing this. He does this all the time, and my regular customers all expect it when he's there. Just as this woman approaches my counter to pay, Conner walks up to her and reaches his hands out to give her a hug. Well, she ignored his approach by fumbling in her purse. Conner then looks her in the face and yells at the top of his lungs, "Give me a hug!" She looked at him and said, "where is your mother? Maybe if she paid more attention to you, you wouldn't have to beg strangers for hugs." Now you can all imagine the fire that was running through me. I collected her money then said, "Conner, come help mommy bag this nice lady's food." As Conner was deciding what size bag to use, I very politely said to her, "I'm very sorry if my son's behavior offended you, but this is who he is. It's called WILLIAMS' SYNDROME. (I pulled my pen off my apron and wrote it down for her) It is a rare genetic disorder. Conner has a number of medical problems as well as developmental delays, and socially Conner is above and beyond where he should be." She said, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. What is WS? I've never heard of that. Is it like Down syndrome? Is he slow?" I just looked at her and smiled. I handed her the paper and told her to look it up on the computer. I told her she would have a different opinion about my son after she learned what WS was. I am not religious by any means, but I so many times tell everyone that Conner was given to ME for a reason. He reminds me everyday not to take anything for granted. We do the best we can with what we have been given. Conner then yells, "Yeh, mom, that's right!" and, "Give me high 5." So, of course, I did. She took her bag and I told her to have a good day. People are so quick to make judgements. People can look at my son and know that something is just not right with him. You know they want to ask, but they never do. Personally, I just tell people that "He has Williams' syndrome." I am not ashamed or embarrassed. It opens the door for questions. I feel one of my duties as a WS mother is to educate people.
Megan, mom to Conner