A mother's viral Facebook letter calls out the parents and strangers who have mistreated her son, who has autism.
Nicole Duggan's 3-year-old son Riley was diagnosed with autism in June 2016, according to the Daily Mail, and is completely nonverbal.
"We have started doing a bit of sign language with him and that really helps. But he is good at 'showing you' what he wants or needs," Duggan told the Daily Mail. "Some days are harder than others but we always get there in the end."
One of the biggest struggles Duggan faces, however, is the way other people -- especially other parents -- treat her son.
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"I always find it is the parents that have a problem," she told ABC. "We have been in situations where parents have pulled their child away from Riley in playgrounds and it is so hurtful for me. But thankfully, Riley doesn't notice as such."
She decided to pen a public letter to these parents through her Facebook blog, My Boy Blue, which she uses to write about her own journey raising an autistic child.
"My little boy is just like your child: he loves to dance, he loves to be cuddled, he cries when he falls, and he adores Mickey Mouse," the letter reads in part. "He is, however, 'wired differently' ... To the people that stare at him because he hums, join in with his little singsong, because in his eyes he is singing the best song in the world. To the mothers that pull their children away from him, you are creating the bullies of the future. Children don’t notice the differences, they just want to play. Let them."
Duggan tells Mashable that she initially created the blog to spread awareness about the stigmas surrounding autism. She hopes that her letter inspires parents to not judge those who are different.
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"There definitely is a stigma attached to it. But I think people just need to learn more about it," she says. "Even if [the blog] changes one person's view on autism I'll be happy."