“Real-Life Princess” Gives Hesperia High School Student with Autism a Special Gift

“Real-Life Princess” Gives Hesperia High School Student with Autism a Special Gift

HESPERIA, Ca. – We all hear about bullying far too often, many children and their parents feel very much alone when dealing with the constant abuse from other children. 

Much of the bullying comes from the “popular” crowd but studies show that most bullies are insecure, scared, and have been the victims of bullying at some point in their own lives. Those bullied come in all shapes and sizes, as a matter of fact; sadly, even adults sometimes bully other adults. The age of the internet has made bullying even worse with “keyboard warriors” making threats or name-calling in the comfort of their own home, from behind a computer or smartphone.

A Hesperia High School Sophomore named Riley knows all too well how lonely being the victim of bullying can be. Riley is autistic and although approximately 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) in the United States are on the spectrum most know very little about Autism.  Autism Speaks, an organization which brings awareness to Autism, says that around 40% of those with autism have intellectual disabilities. Riley is not one of those, and according to his mother, he has a very high IQ. Riley attends normal classes with other students his age because his high IQ.

Riley’s mother, Tamara Shafer said that although Riley does great intellectually; socially he is at a 2nd grade level. “ He’s still into Sesame Street, still believes in Santa, loves Veggie Tales, and most boys his age are into other things,” explained Shafer. “So kids bully him or pick on him. They sing the O’Reilly Auto Parts song to him all the time to get under his skin.” She said that he longs for friends, but because he is different, he sits outside alone in the dirt while on campus.

Elizabeth Sanchez, also a 10th grader was made aware of Riley spending a lot of time alone and told her mother, Tila Sanchez about Riley. “My auntie Janet texted me and I didn’t hesitate to say let’s set up a lunch,” said Elizabeth. “I chose to do this lunch date with Riley today because nobody should be alone, Riley doesn’t speak to many people and has no friends. To hear that nobody speaks with Riley at school or nobody hangs out with him broke my heart. I will always have Riley as one of my closest friends.”

Elizabeth also said that In life people are judged and bullied based on things that are out of our control. “Riley has autism and he is the sweetest kid I’ve met,” added Elizabeth. He loves the Kings, watching YouTube videos, and talking about everyday things. People need to change their ways of looking at others and they need to include everyone not just certain people.”

After explaining the situation to Tila, they both worked on finding out all of Riley’s favorite snacks, his favorite color, and other things about him from his mother. Tila messaged a friend who makes t-shirts with a design that she had in mind. Although her friend did not have the color and sizes she needed, Tila rushed over to a Victorville t-shirt store to purchase the correct color and sizes. The plain shirts were picked up by Tila’s friend and completed within a couple of hours late that evening. Tila rushed over to pick up the t-shirts late Wednesday night.

On Thursday Elizabeth went to school, excited to surprise Riley, and to spend some time with him. Elizabeth located Riley and gave him a very special surprise. “This beautiful, sweet girl today made his [Riley’s] whole day,” said Tamara Shafer. “She surprised him by bringing him pizza. She  sat next to him and explained to him that she wanted to be his friend.” Elizabeth brought Riley a gift with his favorite snacks and brought him his shirt, which matched hers and said, “Team Riley” on it.

“I’m honestly in tears and overwhelmed by her amazing generosity and heart,” said Tamara. She said that hopes that others will be inspired to accept people even if they are different than them and will spread kindness. “
The best part was that the teacher showed him a picture of Elizabeth and told him that she was a homecoming princess,” said Tamara. “He told me that he had lunch with a real-life princess today!  He was so excited to meet royalty.”

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