With April comes Autism Awareness month. In the past I was the first mom to wave my puzzle piece ribbon while shining my blue light but I’m just not there anymore. Everyone knows someone with autism. I don’t need to remind you that the numbers have now risen to 1 in every 68 children. I’m aware, you’re aware and there’s a certain broken record quality to announcing the month.
Which is why I’m so glad the month has finally turned into a time of DOING rather than just talking. The Candlelight Vigil for Autistic Children Who Have Lost Their Lives After Wandering was created this year and I have to say, being part of this group and this event has been eye-opening, tearfully, heartbreakingly eye-opening. I knew children with autism were at risk of wandering from their homes and I followed the cases of the ones gone missing, hoping that they would be found. I cheered when they were and cried when they were not. But I never knew the volume of families affected.
Since promising to light my candle and remember these children gone too soon, I’ve watched name after name be added to the list of those lost. I’ve seen pictures of bright-eyed boys and messages of hollowed out parents and my heart continues to sink.
These children have wandered from school or home or a caregiver and never returned again. Let’s remember them on April 1st and every day after that. Remember their families who are changed forever. Say their names because they need to be said.
We can’t bring them back but we can bring a little comfort to those who miss them most by lighting up their world tomorrow.
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