Poteau Family's Celebration Ends In Tears After Woman's Hurtful Comments About Autistic Son
POTEAU, Oklahoma - A Green Country mom says ugly words targeted her autistic son. Not only did those words sting, they also ruined a special dinner.
The dinner was with the whole family, celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary at the Western Sizzlin in Poteau – a meal she says ended in anger and tears.
14-year-old Ronny Gravitt loves his family, Pikachu, and Western Sizzlin.
The Gravitts say they have been to the Western Sizzlin more than 100 times, but this time was different.
“I seen her look at us and make a face, and I thought, ‘No, please,’” said Melody Gravitt, Ronny’s mother.
She says she was making Ronny’s plate when a woman “turns to the person next to her and kind of halfway turns to us and says real loud, ‘I can’t believe they let him out. He should be at home.’”
Melody says it brought her to tears and really upset Ronny’s father.
“I understand it’s hard for them to understand, if you haven’t gone through it or have someone, a loved one that is autistic,” said Ronald Gravitt.
Melody says she explained to the woman that Ronny has autism.
“She said, ‘Well, back in my day, they locked people up like that,’” recalled Melody.
Stacey Weddington with Autism Oklahoma says verbal abuse towards those with autism is common.
“Words hurt like a fist hurts,” she says. “They don’t leave a bruise on the outside that you can see, but they leave a bruise on the inside of their heart and soul.”
It’s been nearly two weeks and Ronny says he is still reliving it.
“People are mean, and I don’t know why,” declared Ronny.
“That’s the whole reason behind doing this,” said Melody. “If it educated people and kept one family from having to deal with it, it’s worth it.”
The owner of the Western Sizzlin says he’s a grandpa to a special needs child. When he heard about what happened, he had the Gravitt’s back to enjoy their anniversary meal on the house.