Autism, Homelessness, and Kindness
February 2nd, 2014 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

A few weeks back, I was walking in the park, delivering lunches, when one of the homeless women there asked a young man if he wanted a lunch. The young man said yes, and he came over and got one. We smiled at each other, and then the woman and I kept walking.

“Paul* is autistic, you know,” she said. “He won’t ask you for anything, but if you go up to him, he’ll respond to you.”

“He’s autistic?” I said. “Homeless and autistic? That’s got to be rough. He’s especially vulnerable out here.”

“I know,” she said. “That’s why we watch out for him.”

It was such a simple exchange, and yet it broke down every stereotype about homeless people out there — that they’re all lazy bums, that they’re all criminals, that they’re all dangerous, and that none of them are fit to be in community with the rest of us. I have not found the average homeless person to be lazy, criminal, or dangerous; in fact, I have met a number of kind, caring, and thoughtful people. I’ve had conversations about politics, religion, disability, and art, and I’ve seen more than one example of people looking out for one another.

It always takes my breath away when people in crisis look out for one another. It reminds me of the goodness of people, and how we can care for one another, even in dire circumstances. I wish we did more of it. The world would be a kinder and more life-affirming place.

*a pseudonym

© 2014 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

4 Responses  
  • David McKay writes:
    February 3rd, 20149:31 amat

    Thank you for this messsage. Hope it gets out.

  • Thurman Greco writes:
    February 17th, 20149:31 amat

    Just a short note to thank you for your posts about homelessness. I’ve just begun a blog about hunger. Your posts about homelessness are always so “right on”.
    We did a Point in Time census of homeless people in our area on Jan 31st for HUD. It was 9 degrees out.

    Thank you for printing every post.
    I love them all.
    Peace and food for all.
    Thurman Greco

  • Isabel Espinal writes:
    February 17th, 20149:31 amat

    Hi Rachel.

    I miss you since I’ve deactivated my Facebook account. I was thinking about you and thought I’d stop by for a visit. Glad I did. nice post!

  • clip downloader writes:
    July 18th, 202411:27 pmat

    Hi i think that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to Return the favore Im attempting to find things to enhance my siteI suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>
»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa