Even for parents of children with no abnormalities or extreme adversity, the desire to protect and defend is incredibly strong. That’s even more so the case for parents of children that do have extra obstacles to overcome, though — and as Huffington Post blogger AliceAnn Meyer showed the world, parents of children with differences can truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Meyer has a 4-year-old son named Jameson.
In a blog she wrote about the youngster, she told other parents that her toddler is just like any other child. He throws tantrums, love snuggles, and is learning all about the world around him.
Unlike most children, though, Jameson looks very different on the outside — and while he’s perfectly normal on the inside, his physical appearance can sometimes cause shock and alarm.
Meyer’s son has Pfeiffer Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes premature fusion of parts of the skull early on in life.
While certain types of the syndrome are more severe than others —- and do cause a range of complications, including neurological compromise — Jameson has what is referred to as Type 1, meaning he’s “100 percent normal” when it comes to cognitive function. He has some hearing (and therefore speech) delays, but the only difference between him and other children is his face. His eyes, among other features, look different.
She had to go to bat for him first when he was still a younger tot, writing a piece responding to the parents and young children that didn’t know how to react to Jameson’s appearance.
“He’s not a monster,” she wrote, “he’s a little boy.”
In the piece, she had included a picture of Jameson. Sure enough, he very clearly looks different from other little kids – but, as Meyer explained, that’s not the case on the inside at all.
Unfortunately, that picture found it’s way into the hands of some less-than-chivalrous internet users.
Meyer discovered that Jameson’s picture had been turned into an internet meme, comparing him to a pug.
Her response: “That’s my son.”
To the majority of the world, using physical abnormalities as a joke or a meme is offensive and unkind — but as Meyer discovered, the creator of the cruel image had garnered plenty of support from other internet trolls in the weeks following its posting. It popped up on multiple forms of social media, including Twitter and Instagram, and earned thousands of likes and shares on Facebook.
Meyer, naturally, was devastated when she made her discovery — but in addition to going to work quickly demanding the image be taken down, she penned another letter to the clueless people who had used her son’s image as a cruel joke.
Titled “This is my son, Jameson, and No, you may not use his photo,” the post explained that the joke was very unfunny to the family of the child being targeted.
She vowed to do everything in her power to get it taken down, and implored that all her social media friends and readers report any images they saw.
Going beyond that, though, Meyer explained that she wanted to help raise awareness for what that kind of post did to the person used without their consent.
“What can you do to help? If you see this face somewhere it doesn’t belong, or if you see that meme, screenshot it and send it to me. Please do not share the meme. The screenshot also provides me with proof. You can also report it, as many times as you want.”
Although it may seem funny, she wrote, and although there will always be cruel people out there, she hoped to change the world a bit for children like her son — children who may look or act a little different, but deserve humanity and kindness nonetheless. She hopes to help people who are more negligent than mean-spirited realize the consequences of their actions, and hopefully create a more welcoming environment for the children who need it the most.
“I promise you that as hurt as I am that someone created this meme I am not naive enough to believe there aren’t people out there who will mock and bully my child. But, I will always do what I can to encourage people to open their minds, hearts, and lives to Jameson and kiddos like him. We always Choose Kind, and we want you to as well.”