Nobody likes getting touched by a stranger at a public gathering. But what if a specially-abled child did it?

An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for saying ‘No’ and pulling my arm away from a special needs teen?”. We need your opinion on the matter!


theme park
Image Credits: Deposit Photos.

This weekend, the Original Poster (OP) (26F) was at an amusement park that gets quite busy. 

“I was standing waiting for an event to start while my friend went to grab snacks when I felt something brush against my arm,” says OP. 


Image Credits: Roman Samborskyi, Shutterstock

She (OP) didn’t think much of it because, as she said, this park gets busy, and sometimes that can happen. 


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A few moments later, OP felt another brush against her arm. OP glanced back quickly and saw a teen (16) in a wheelchair. 


Portrait of an upset young casual girl standing with arms folded isolated over pink background
Image Credits: Deposit Photos

Shortly after, OP felt a hand grab onto her arm. OP pulled away and tried to move a little further. The teen grabs OP’s arm again and starts patting her. OP said “No” and pulled away to leave. 


feeling disgusted and irritated, sticking tongue out, disliking something nasty and yucky
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As OP started walking away, she heard the child’s mom (assuming) yelling out that her kid has unique needs and is loving and doesn’t hurt anyone. 

“Pretty sure she called me an ableist, but at that point, I had already walked off,” says OP. 


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“I don’t like being grabbed, and I don’t want any physical contact with someone I don’t know. Should I have handled it better? Am I a jerk?” asks OP. 


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She (OP) later edited the post and added the following information:

“I was a little shocked that the mother just stood there. While I should have said something, the last thing I wanted was a confrontation that resulted in either of us getting removed from the park.

I did get asked about the gender, and I wasn’t sure. I think many responses assumed a male, but might have been a female. It still doesn’t change how I would have reacted.”


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“Not the jerk. You responded naturally to being grabbed by someone you don’t know. Special needs or not, if you don’t want to be touched/grabbed, you don’t have to accept it. I would have also felt uncomfortable, especially if caught off guard.”


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“Not the jerk. It sounds like the mom has used ‘ableist’ before, as it seemed to come out quite naturally. She needs to stick a bit closer to her child to monitor the touching. It would make me uncomfortable, and I think you did the right thing.” 


I don't know. Portrait of confused beautiful woman in glasses with wavy blond hair standing, raised arms, confused and thinking. Indoor studio shot isolated on gray background.
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“The child’s mother is using him/her as a crutch to allow them to get away with crossing boundaries. He may have meant no harm, but it doesn’t excuse his behavior. His rights end where yours begin. Not the jerk.”


young pretty woman looking puzzled, confused and stressed, wondering between different options, feeling uncertain
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“Not the jerk. The guardian or parent needs to step up the end of their jobs and do a better job rather than putting it on everyone else. I don’t like being touched either, especially by people I don’t know.” 


Young Russian girl isolated on yellow background having doubts while raising hands
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“Not the jerk. You don’t have to give up your personal space or autonomy because a kid wants to touch you. You don’t owe any part of your body to anyone. Mom must teach her kid to ask permission to touch other people.” 

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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.

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