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Jan Randall In Praise of Good People Helping People with Autism

Alex andy
Managing Editor's Note: Jan Randall wrote this letter to the editor to  East Bay Rhode
In a world of rotten news, frightening stories and what often seems like a complete breakdown of civility and care, this letter is full of hope. Enjoy. That's Andy and Alex during an outing. I dare you not to smile from ear to ear like I am...  KS

Thank you to all the decent people who have been so good to our son, Andrew
By Jan Randall

To the editor:

It’s unfortunate but true that people are usually quick to complain, but slow to say thank you. I am one of those people, but something happened today to remind me why it’s important to make the time to say thank you.

My son Andrew has Autism and Tourettes Syndrome. Today when he went to the Newman YMCA with his mentor, two young men groaned when he walked in the gym and said “Oh NO, not him! That’s all we need right now” loudly enough so she would know they we displeased by their presence. She was troubled by the comment, but ignored it and they went on to shoot some baskets.

What does this rude comment have to do with saying “thank you?” More than you might expect.

Andrew has been going out with his mentors for over 10 years now. Hanging out with other 20-somethings is his chance to just be a regular guy. Over the years Andrew and his mentors, and sometimes even I have experienced rude, ignorant and sometimes down right nasty comments. I am grateful that those experiences have been the exceptions. Mostly what we have experienced is kindness, consideration and generosity and it is time to thank those people and businesses who have been so wonderful to Andrew, his mentors and our family.

To the staff at the Seekonk Driving Range, thank you for all of your kindness and patience even when Andrew’s golfing etiquette isn’t up to par.

Thank you to everyone at Monster Mini Golf. Andrew has been going there since shortly after you opened and all the staff have been wonderful and generous each and every time.

Thank you to the folks at Simcock Farm in Swansea. Andrew went there for the first time in the September 2010. You were so thoughtful and generous, and Andrew had so much fun, that he visited many times last fall. He can’t wait to go back this year!

Thank you to all of the wonder people at the Crescent Park Carousel, for being so nice to Andrew each time he comes and for sometimes letting Andrew and his mentor ride for free.

Thank you to the gentleman who runs The Roger Williams Park Boat House. He took us out for a ride even though the boat wasn’t ready, just because we told you we had only come to the park because we wanted Andrew to have a ride on the electric boat. Because of your kindness Andrew now has a new favorite place to go.

Thank you to everyone at Stop & Shop in Seekonk. Everyone there has never been anything but kind to Andrew and our family. I also want say a very a special thank you to Frank, who always offers a cheerful hello to Andrew, and whoever is with him. Frank, I also want you to know that I really appreciate when you help me find the shortest line when you can see that Andrew is really ready to leave.

To the staff at Newman YMCA and the majority of your members, thank you for being considerate, patient, and for your years of friendship.

I am positive that there are many other people and places I have forgotten to mention, if I forgot you, this message is for you. If you have been patient when Andrew needs time, if you have been are compassionate and let him go ahead because it’s hard for him to wait, if you have offered a kind word when he’s having a hard time, if you said hello, how are you, and took the time for him to process what you said and respond; well, you know who you are.

What I want each and every one of you, (mentioned and unmentioned) to know is that in this rushed world we live in, our whole family and Andrew’s mentors deeply appreciates each and every one of your gestures of kindness and friendship.

And to those young men at the YMCA who made the comment, I only ask that next time you see Andrew stop for one moment and think, what if he was your brother, your cousin, or someday your son. It doesn’t really take any time to be kind and it will be appreciated more than you could ever know.

Jan Randall, and her husband Bob, are the parents of 25 year old Andrew who has Autism, Tourettes and Bipolar and his older sister Allison.  Jan has worked with the nonprofit agency, Community Autism Resources for the past 18 years. Her dream is to write a book about her family’s journey.


Sharon Dalessio

Thank you Jan for your wonderful, uplifting attitude. As a volunteer and also a grandmother of an autistic child you truly give me hope and inspiration. Andrew is so lucky to have you in his corner.

Cynthia Ottilige

Thank you for your words of wisdom.
It is not often we are caught, especially in print, seeing ourselves as others do. Human kindness is remarkable, compassion in action is spectacular and
changes the order of things; most often, hearts and minds.
Were all communities so blessed ~ Peace, Cindy Ottilige

April Vocke

This was a wonderful article! As a teacher of children with special needs it's so nice to hear that the majority of comments received over the years have been positive and supporting. I like that you mentioned the places that have always been good to your son, they will have MY business now and in the future :) I like to support those companies that support those who need a bit more kindness and understanding. Thanks to YOU, for this article!


Thank you for a much needed reminder. We have by far much more to love and be thankful if only we do not let that which is unpleasant and difficult overshadow it.

Ana - you know who this is Jann

Thank you so much jan for helping me see in time to appreciate that my son is so much more than his diagnosis .. He is a bright wonderful boy who i am watching him become a man and not focusing only on his deficits but his enormous potential god bless you Jann

Cheryl Gaudino

I run an adult employment program for the Gottschall Autism Center in southeastern Massachusetts. This is Andrew's second year working for us. He is capable, smart, wonderfully funny and (sorry Jan!) a shameless flirt. Andy is quite affected by autism but that does not stop him from being a model employee and I am honored to know and work with him.

Our kids have so much to give. I feel sorry for the people in this world who can't see that, as THEY are the ones missing out on the beautiful experience of knowing our kids.


I have plenty of thank yous too:

Eddie Nation and his wife (pastor of Mt.Vernon, Baptist church) for the kindness and acceptance they showed my son.
Thanks to Eddie Nation's son for befriending my son.
Thanks to Bryan Phelps youth director of Baptist church that spent hours and hours waxing philosphically with my son.
Thanks to John Hale retired principle of Rockcastle Co High for making those last two years of highschool for my son wonderful - and John Hale's son who befriended my son.

Thanks to every last one of the teachers and vocational teachers of Rockcastle county too. Of all the years he went to school the people of Rockcastle county showed the most kindness and caring - Ever- out of all the years my son was in the school systme.

I am glad we moved back just in time to get to know these people.

Joyce Hatfield Thankyou - you taught him for two whole years - his third and fourth grade teacher - you were wonderful - I could not have gotten through it with out you.

Thank You to Mrs. Mattingly his fifth grade math teacher that was shocked when he was put in special ed math at the end of that year - You told me he was a good little math student. Those words gave us heart to succeed in math, algerbra and trig both in highschool and at his community college.

Thank you to Geogre Null and Phillip Moran at Somerset Community College for not letting us bolt for the door and giving our son a chance to succeed under your caring wings.

Teresa Conrick

Thank you, Jan and Andrew for bringing such a positive spin to what could be looked at as a crappy deal. Your gratitude and hopeful attitude is so great and something that I need to do more. In seeing many teens of different abilities in my professional and personal life, it is the Andrews and those that gladly welcome him that are the winners in life.

Donna L.

This is such a beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes and made me think of all the relative strangers we see on a regular basis in our community who show my son a great deal of kindness and compassion. I'm not sure most people have any idea just how much a simple smile and 'hello' can mean to one of our kids. Thank you for so beautifully pointing that out, Jan.

Maurine Meleck

Thank you for this. I understand it completely. On the same note-thank you to all those from the Kiokee Baptist Church in Appling, Ga, who last Saturday outdid themselves when they held a swim and boat party for special needs children in Ga. and SC. I nevr before saw so many caring and kind people in one place. Maurine

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