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Bus Driver Surprises Lonely Autistic Teen With The Perfect Handmade Present For His 19th Birthday

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Bus Driver

When Logan Pearson turned 19 on Wednesday, February 24, he and his family expected to celebrate alone.

But the Pearsons received a happy surprise: Logan’s school bus driver remembered his birthday, and had the perfect gift for her passenger.

Logan has a history of being neglected on birthdays.

The teenager has severe autism, which causes him to struggle with daily activities.

He is nonverbal and vulnerable to bouts of extreme anxiety that can cause him to yell, pace, and even damage household objects. 

When Logan was 18, his father, James, said his mental function was “along the lines of a 12-month-old.”

RELATED: 13 Tough Truths Only Parents Of Kids With Autism Will Understand

The condition has led to social isolation.

In 2014, Logan’s parents told CBS local news that their son had stopped receiving birthday cards and wishes years ago. 

“People have just felt like…  ‘Logan can’t understand,’” said his father, James. “So we aren’t going to do anything for him like other kids.’”

Despite this common misconception, Logan’s mother, Catherine, says that he loves excitement and is able to connect strongly with the world around him.

“The thing with Logan is he likes to be outside, outdoors. He likes new and different experiences,” Catherine said. “He prefers video arcades, the lights, the music.”

However, Logan “does not have a friend,” says Catherine. “Not a single one.”

Catherine’s view on this issue might have changed, though, after an unexpected act of kindness occurred this week.

Nancy Hall is a bus driver for Beverly Public Schools. She has driven Logan’s bus route for five years and has gotten to know the young man, who she praises highly. 

“He’s just a sweet boy,” Hall said, “and he makes my world a little bit better.”

Hall remembered Logan’s birthday. 

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On Wednesday, the bus driver gave Logan a sandbox to celebrate his 19th year. Hall had filled the box with toy trucks, including a tiny model school bus. Knowing that Logan is often inclined to put things in his mouth, she made the sand out of crushed Cheerios.

“It was a shock that anybody remembered his birthday,” Catherine said.

Young adults with autism often face unique social challenges. 

They tend to experience communication difficulties, especially those who are nonverbal.

Many have social anxiety and difficulty relating to others. The strong stigma surrounding neuroatypical individuals can make it difficult to form relationships without judgment or prejudice, and can even lead to bullying. As a result, autistic adults report significantly higher levels of loneliness than those who are considered neurotypical.

Furthermore, the effort and education required to bond with someone like Logan are simply more than some people are willing to offer.

Consultant and life coach Joseph Stasaitis explains that individuals with severe autism “are very structured in their thought process, so it is important to listen attentively and respond directly.”

“For those that are non-verbal,” Stasaitis adds, forming a connection “requires patience and showing up with an open heart and acceptance.”

Luckily there are people like Nancy Hall, who are open to learning about autism and putting in the effort to interact with autistic individuals. The bus driver says that she “learned more about autism” from Logan “than anyone else in the world.” 

Logan and his family are extremely grateful for Hall’s thoughtful gift.

“It just warmed our hearts, to be honest, I started crying as soon as I saw the gift. It just meant a lot to us. As parents, it just felt like a huge amount of support that she has our back,” Catherine Pearson said.

A video posted by Boston 25 News shows Logan digging through the sandbox, completely absorbed. He does appear to have been eating the pseudo-sand – and enjoying it! 

Logan smiles up from his sweet present for a picture.

Here's to wishing Logan a very happy 19th birthday!

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Allie McGlone is a writer who covers a variety of topics for YourTango, including pop culture and entertainment.