Inclusion Starts with a Smile

calendarJanuary 28 2020

Adam Murphy (Autism Dad) talks about caring for his adult son who is autistic and how inclusion starts with a smile; one woman’s kindness makes all the difference on shopping trips.

Image of Adam standing arm in arm with his son, Ryan.

I’m a 47 year old father of 3 boys. My eldest son has autistic spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

Autism is a word that everyone knows but very few people understand. Even those that do understand can only understand their experience and how it directly effects them or their family.

It is not uncommon to be stared at as I proudly walk hand in hand with my adult son.

My son shouts and claps happily and loudly for all to hear. If we were in the old West, curtains would be drawn, young children hurried off the streets and doors quickly shut in an old-time fashion but hiding behind doors will not create awareness and understanding.

Going out with my son

I was shopping alone at my local supermarket, buying 10 packets of blu tack. “Why so many?” asked the shop lady with interest. I explained my son uses it as a sensory item, quickly shaping and spinning it, and had done so for 20 years but he will discard it once it becomes too sticky. She was very interested, I paid then left.

A few short weeks later, my son and I popped in for some shopping. It was a relaxed Sunday morning with music playing loudly from the warehouse. The lady that had served me before approached us and asked my son how he was but he didn’t answer. To break the ice, I asked the lady the year she was born, somewhat puzzled she replied “1972”.  “Who was the Christmas Number 1 in 1972?” I asked my son, “Little Jimmy Osmond, Long Haired Lover from Liverpool” my son replied as quick as a flash.

The lady was flabbergasted, my son has an incredible knowledge of music of all types and all eras. I then asked him what song was playing in the warehouse, again a quick reply and we said our goodbyes

Inclusion starts with a smile

We returned to the shop later that week, and the same lady approached us again and started quizzing my son. Again he replied with the correct answers each time. She then turned her name badge over and revealed a tiny piece of blu tack. Excitedly, Ryan took it and played with it as we shopped, returning it to her badge when we finished.

My son had made an impression and a friend and all it took was a smile.   

Hi, my name is Adam and my son’s name is Ryan. In 2018 I lost 10 stone, in 8 months, my son lost 7 stone over a much longer period. The picture above is a recent photo of us as we are about to go to a farmer’s market – lots of walking , tiny free samples and exercise, perfect!

You can read more from Adam at or follow him on Twitter: @autcareandshare

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