One mom, from Alamogordo, New Mexico, originally planned a trip to a local theater to celebrate her son’s 6th birthday. But when no one responded to her invitations, she took to Facebook to share her disappointment. Unexpectedly, dozens of strangers who saw the post offered to throw the boy a party, which ultimately saw more than 200 strangers come together to celebrate his birthday together.
Lisa Schramel’s son, Mathias, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years old, although he started showing signs at 8 months.
“He’s got intense sensory issues,” said Schramel, in an interview with Alamogordo Daily News. “The world is different for Mathias.”
To celebrate Mathias’s 6th birthday, Schramel sent out invitations to his classmates in early October. She invited them to watch Thor with his son at the theater.
Mathias was looking forward to it—but, nobody responded.
Schramel was heartbroken and frustrated. She took to Facebook to vent her disappointment.
She wishes people will take time to understand that children with autism “are not contagious or all violent,” and that they are “as unique and beautiful as every other child.”
Speaking to PEOPLE, Schramel said, “They are the same functional human beings on the inside as everybody else.”
Schramel thought she had to break the sad news to Mathias; however, something amazing happened.
Soon, she was overwhelmed by the response that followed her post. Dozens of people told her they would love to throw a birthday party for Mathias.
“I cried. I just cried,” Schramel recounted.
With 15 hours left to prepare for the party, Schramel planned the event at a local zoo, as Mathias loves animals.
More than 200 people joined Mathias to celebrate his birthday at Alameda Park Zoo, including Otero County Sheriff’s Office deputies, on Nov. 4, 2017.
One woman baked him an enormous colorful cake, and people ordered pizzas from Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s.
“The table was compiled with gifts that we asked people to make donations to the zoo or animal shelter. Mathias thought it would be nice to donate gifts to the puppies and kitties so he donated some gifts to the animal shelter and also Toys for Tots,” Schramel said.
Schramel was touched. She was thankful to those who stepped forward to make Mathias’s birthday a special one. That was the first time she got to see her son being treated like any other kid.
“That’s all I ever wanted for him, just a [sic] have moments where nobody looked at him as broken or different, or in some way that made his existence seem wrong,” she added.
Schramel hopes that through this story, people can be more understanding toward a child with autism. In Mathias’s case, he has high-functioning autism (HFA), which includes ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. That means a range of things can trigger Mathias to shut down, such as being touched or hearing loud sounds.
“We have to understand that they see the world through a bullhorn. Everything is louder, bigger and they feel trapped. That’s what causes him to act out,” Schramel explained.
Photo Credit: Facebook | Lisa Schramel.