Max Bedard is a 14-year-old autistic boy with a sensory processing disorder. On Friday, he was excited to attend his first dance ever at Pelham Memorial Middle School in New Hampshire and meet up with his date. But when he showed up wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt, black sweatpants, a hooded sweatshirt, and dog tags in honor of his brother who had joined the Army, Max was sent straight to principal Stacy Maghakian’s office instead of being allowed into the dance.
“He was stopped at the door,” Max’s mom, Michelle Bedard, told local Fox affiliate WFXT on Tuesday. [The principal] said to him, ‘Are you really wearing that?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and she brought him to the office and made him call home. He never made it to the dance and never saw that girl who was meeting him there.”
Max was given the option to go home and put on a formal shirt, but Michelle says he was too upset to return to the dance.
“He ripped off the wristband that they give them and threw it on the floor of my car,” she told the news station. “I drove home listening to my son cry.”
Because of his sensory issues, Max only wears clothing made from soft cotton, Michelle told WFXT, something she had discovered after Max had a “meltdown” when she wrapped him in a fleece blanket. “You notice these things, like when he showers, he doesn’t use warm water,” she said. “Cold does not faze him, heat does. He doesn’t get invited to birthday parties, he doesn’t get invited over to friends’ houses to have playdates, so this dance, for him, it was huge.”
When Max’s classmates discovered he didn’t get into the dance, they attended school Monday wearing sweatpants and blue shirts in a show of support — blue is a color associated with autism awareness — and posted on social media using the hashtag #MaxItMonday.
— Kimberly Bookman (@KimberlyBookman) February 21, 2017
Michelle also created the Facebook page #MaxItMonday. The group’s nearly 500 members upload photos of themselves and their children (some with autism, some without) wearing blue. One woman designed a blue bracelet spelling out Max’s name, another dressed her dog in a blue jacket, and a pair of medical professionals posed for a photo wearing blue scrubs.
According to the Eagle Tribune newspaper, the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, which spreads awareness for childhood heart conditions, is crowning Max as a “king” in May and the American Legion, which advocates for war veterans, is hosting an event for kids with special needs.
A representative from Pelham Memorial Middle School did not return Yahoo Style’s request for comment. However, in a letter to the community, superintendent Amanda Lecaroz wrote, “Number one, the young man was never ‘sent home’ by Ms. Maghakian from the dance on Friday night, but rather sent to her office by other staff members to make a phone call along with several other students to have parents bring alternative clothing to better meet the dress code or clothing expectations of the event. That being said, obviously there were communication breakdowns prior to and during this event that led to this unfortunate situation, and we will use these lessons to make things better for everyone in the future.”
Yahoo Style could not reach the Bedard family for comment. However, Max told Fox25 of the mass movement: “That really made me wicked happy inside my heart. And I was really happy that people actually cared for me.”