An Owatonna monther recently posted a heartfelt message to the community surrounding her autistic son Mason, of whom both have recently moved to the community. Mason's mom Sarah simply has asked Owatonna and in a sense all of Southern Minnesota to simply 'just say hi' to her son Mason rather than to call the police.

Sarah's post to the Owatonna Happenings page tells a short story about some difficulties that her son Mason has encountered since arriving in Owatonna from the Twin Cities.

"Hello Owatonna This is my son Mason. We recently moved to Owatonna from the cities and He absolutely loves it here. You've probably seen him riding his bike all over Owatonna. My adult son is autistic and means no harm and is not a threat in any way. He is very kind and friendly. He has a routine of riding his bike to different parks around town every day. Most people are very nice to him but some people have called the police on him because they think his behavior is odd or strange. And this makes him very depressed and sad sometimes for days. Please try to understand not everyone is the "same". He is high functioning and very kind and friendly.. He loves to say hi and compliment people. If you have a problem with my son please don't call police. You can reach out to me by p.m. or just say hi to him. If you don't understand autism let me inform you his social skills are underdeveloped. Buy that doesn't mean he's " creepy or a threat". Officer Shaw has met him and understands him. And he likes talking to Mason. Thank you for your time"


I reached out to Sarah as asked if I could share this message, which I think is really an incredible one that speaks to the inclusion and understanding of those who have autistic children or are unfamiliar with autism in general. Sarah was really cool about me sharing her heartfelt message. Not all autistic people are the same, there are different spectrums that people may fall into.

So what is autism?

According to "Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication."

What does autism in Minnesota look like?

According to the Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul cited that in Minnesota 1 in 42 children appear on the autism spectrum, higher than the national average of 1 in 59 children. The foundation went on to explain that it's not that there are more cases here in Minnesota, but that those living on the autism spectrum are being diagnosed here with higher rates.

The next time you see Mason riding his bike around Owatonna or in any nearby community make sure you stop and say hi, give him a wave, or offer up a welcoming smile.

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