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I would like to give kudos to the people of western Montana and a certain restaurant in Missoula that was able to come to the defense of a person whom I will call “Gus.”

My family knows Gus and his family going back years; both of our families have teen and adult family members who are considered autistic. While autism families live in our own normal world, the rest of society has and will continue to learn that people with developmental disabilities are still important members of society, have a lot to give and will not go away. Autism is growing at an epidemic rate and has increased from 1 in 1000 children in 1998 to our most current 1 in 50 (2015).

Autism families go to great lengths to ensure the rest of society isn't disrupted by this disability that we live with 24-seven. The majority of the time it is a production to go to a restaurant with an autistic child, politely asks for seating away from other diners and enjoy our dinner as a family.

The individual who chose to complain loudly concerning Gus at a restaurant should have looked into his own heart and left it at that. Instead, the person continued to voice his displeasure with Gus and was ultimately asked to leave.

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I applaud this restaurant, the staff and Gus’s caregiver for handling the situation with the utmost respect. From this day forward, I vow to eat one apple a day, and look at bees with a different light.

Rich Janssen Jr.,

Ronan

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