11-year-old Emily Mueller loves the Krewe of Muses and the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans and had been counting down the days to see them. But last week, as she waited with her mother, Amy Mueller, on the sidewalk, a group of teenagers or young adults, wielding cups of beer and cigarettes, got in front of them and cruelly ridiculed Emily, who is high-functioning autistic.
As Mueller wrote on her blog, someone spilled beer on Emily and her daughter’s hair was nearly set on fire by a cigarette. But the worst happened when one of the young men saw a patch on Emily’s coat that indicates she is autistic, so medical personnel can know this. The man referred to Emily with the r-word — right in front of her — and said that she was “making watching the parade a challenge.” Emily understood what was being said to her and, as Mueller painfully writes,
A night she had been looking forward to, planning and anticipating for a few months, had just been marred by that bad behavior of a grown person.
“Mama. please, can we go home? He told everyone I’m a retard. I’m not a retard, am I, Mama?” she asked. The grin was gone, replaced by a quivering lip. The sparkle in her eyes had dispersed, and they were now filled with a flow of tears falling down her full, pink cheeks.
The two left the parade and went home, where Emily declared “I don’t think I want to do Mardi Gras anymore. Not ever again.”
After Mueller wrote about what had happened, word spread quickly about Emily’s terrible mistreatment. The Krewe of Muses themselves heard about Emily and invited her to their float den. On Friday, Emily got a close-up of the floats for an “experience she will never forget.”
As Kathleen Parke, a member of Muses, told WWLTV,
“I thought it was important for people to remember the power of our words, that we have the power to hurt and we have the power to heal. And if one person makes a stupid mistake and hurts, than the rest of us need to show that we have the power to heal, too.”
Mueller expressed her deep thanks, saying that “This is something that my little girl is going to remember for the rest of her life and it’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, too.”
Many thanks to the Krewe of Muses for turning a cruel and vicious attack on a young woman into a story about healing, kindness and caring.
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