How Just Bee Started
The day I found out I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life. My dream was always to be a mother. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the challenges I was about to face as a single mother, especially when I found out my son was diagnosed with Autism. The emotional journey and heart break that you feel when you know that your child is different is unlike any other. Through all the tears, comes inner strength knowing I had to be the voice for my son Rio. He is beautiful, kind, and loving but in a world that can be cruel and unaware of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) there was only so much I could do to protect him. I knew that my son deserved the same quality of life as a typical child. One particular event was the tipping point and the inspiration to start Just Bee. My call to action came one night when I decided to go out for pizza with my kids.
The restaurant was busy that night, but everything seemed fine. Besides, I had nothing to worry about; this was one of my “Safe-Zones”. I was so wrong. We were waiting for our pizza when my son started having a meltdown. I tried to calm him, but he was only getting worse. He began banging his head on the table, screaming, kicking and biting me… I began to panic. The people in the restaurant were pointing and making rude comments. I couldn’t help but hear the things they were saying.
- “Control your kid!”
- “What kind of mother are you?”
- “Spoiled, rotten kid!”
- “You need to leave”
The waitress heard what was going on and rushed to my assistance. She took my daughter as I attempted to calm my son. Nothing was helping as the comments from the other customers seemed to fuel my son’s rage. I called my father who quickly came to my rescue after we were kicked of the restaurant. He was able to calm my son down enough to get him into his car and take him home. As I put my daughter into my car, I started to reflect on what had just happened. I felt so helpless, so powerless, and I asked myself:
“Why can’t people just be kind? Why can’t they just be more understanding and compassionate? Why can’t people just be?” “Why can’t everyone just be nice?” I continued. “Why can’t they be kind? Why can’t they be friendly to him? Why can’t they understand and help me? Why can’t they act human?” It went on and on in my head. I was playing with words that all stemmed from the thought of a bumblebee.
I got back to my house where my dad was waiting. He could see I was upset. My eyes filled with tears and I broke down. I grabbed my daughter’s bumblebee baby blanket to wipe away the tears. I was asking my dad the same questions I had asked myself earlier when I suddenly felt a moment of peace. It was the smile of clarity and confirmation when suddenly, it came to me. The questions I had been asking myself… The questions I had been asking my dad…. Why can’t people Just Bee Human?
I thought to myself, if the restaurant had seated us a little bit quicker… If the pizza had gotten to the table sooner…If there was a way that businesses could accommodate families with autism spectrum disorder, it wouldn’t be so difficult to go out and do things as a family and feel part of the community.
I decided I would create a movement and App that can help families on the spectrum find places with discounts, roundup, and sensory friendly environments. There will be training and certification programs on how to work with families in order to improve their quality of life. Most families don’t go out in public for the fear of how they will be perceived, judged, or disrespected. There are millions of families affected by autism, which is an epidemic of sizable proportion. These businesses designating certain times and specific discounts to Bee members will bring in an untapped market, creating revenue and community.
I believe as Rio’s mother that it is a corporate social responsibility to help families with Autism Spectrum Disorder be part of the community. Neurodiversity is a civil right. Just Bee is about being inclusive, not exclusive. Things need to change, Just Bee is that change.