A young boy named Mathias in Alamogordo, New Mexico was excited to celebrate his sixth birthday party, and his mother was just as thrilled. The youngster was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to celebrate his birthday with all of his classmates at school. With that, his mother, Lisa Schramel, sent out invitations to his birthday party. Unfortunately, nobody responded to the invitations, leaving her distraught.
She went on social media to vent, leaving a long message on her Facebook page. “So what is the stigmatization of autistic kids about,” she asked. “My son is a sweet, kind boy. But not one kid from his class answered back about his birthday party. He is so excited. And no one is coming now it’s (too) late to book the movie theater even if they last minute changed their minds. He is going to be heartbroken. How do I even look at that sweet face and tell him he is different and that’s OK when people are so dang men. Autistic kids are not contagious or all violent. They are as unique and beautiful as every other child. I wish people took the time to know that.”
Hundreds of reactions, comments and shares followed, when things took a turn for the better. People were asking for links to the birthday party event page, and all of a sudden there were RSVP’s coming in left and right. “All these people started to offer to do these things,” Schramel said. “It’s hard with an autistic child and hard to get people to understand that sometimes his behavior is difficult to deal with, but he has a good heart. All these people decided they wanted to come. I think about 218 people were interested in doing something. At that point, I had 15 hours to put it together.”
When the big day arrived, more than 200 people showed up at the local park, and they brought plenty of gifts. Multiple cakes and pizzas were dropped off for Mathias, and the gifts started to pile up. What Mathias wanted more than anything, though, were donations to the local zoos and animal shelters, “So he donated some gifts to the animal shelter and also Toys For Tots,” Schramel said.
Mathias had a blast at his birthday party, and couldn’t stop being amazed by the amount of people at his big event. At one point, they said he might not ever be verbal, but “The miracle is getting him to stop,” said Schramel. It hasn’t been easy for Mathias growing up, but he got to have his shining day with loads of people to talk to.
Schramel never anticipated how something negative could turn into such a positive. “I sent out invitations to his class, I gave the parents a couple months’ notice, it was an RSVP,” she said. “It was going to be at the movie theater…Mathias was really looking forward to it…The goal was to get enough kids, it was a minimum of 10, and we were willing to pay for that, it was no big deal,” she continued.
“We waited to hear from people and weren’t hearing anything. We started looking at other options like a home party and I went on Facebook to vent a little. That’s all I wanted to do, but it went from venting to all these people wanting to make his big day special.”
It was emotional for Schramel, who said “Trust me, we’re doing our best. When you have an autistic child your hopes and dreams are different. You hope people are nice to him, you hope he learns to tie his show, you hope he learns to make food for himself. All these simple tasks that come easy to other children. I dream he has a quality of life outside of home and that one day he will experience normalcy.”