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R counted all his money and it came to five dollars. He had an idea. He would give his money to people who had no money to buy food. On the way into the library he stopped a man who looked down on his luck – “Excuse me, if you don’t have any money, you might like to have this” – and handed him a quarter.

I explained that there might be a better way to give away money than to go up to people on the street. I told him we could donate money to the homeless shelter. He wasn’t convinced, so he wrote a note and taped it to the garage so passerbys could see it, come up to the door, knock, and get their money…


He turned on all the lights and ceiling fans in the house to signal to passers-by that they could come to the door to get their money. He knew the rule for trick-or-treating was that you only go to houses with the porch light on.

“5.00 of money and you can use that to buy food.”


When no one came to our door to claim the money, we addressed an envelope to the Shelter Association of our county. He signed his note, and after a lot of convincing, he let me put a bill instead of $5 in coins into the envelope.

He wanted to make sure it got to the homeless shelter, so he wrote Homeless Shel across the back of the envelope, and ter on the front when he ran out of room.



A few weeks later, R is still trying to give away his money. He put $10.30 into a wipes container and put it at the end of the driveway. “Take 1.00”


The money was out all afternoon. When he counted at the end of the day, there was $10.31. Did he miscount, or did someone add a penny? I told him that the people in our neighborhood probably don’t need money.


Today his idea was to fill these pouches he made with coins and take them downtown. People are supposed to reach in to get a coin, after which R would write it down. After much discussion, R agreed to give the money to someone who was collecting donations for the Children’s Hospital, and to simply put the money in the bucket without making the person reach into the pouches. We talked about giving freely, with no strings attached.


Wait, I thought autistic people lacked empathy???

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