There is something about the autism community that is so strongly intertwined you can almost feel it. Whether we know each other or not, we are drawn to each other’s stories. We pass knowing glances in the supermarket and offer letters of support and outrage when our children are wronged. And we send virtual hugs as we sit helpless when tragedy hits another autism family, because they are our autism family.
In the last week, beginning with the tragic death of Mikaela Lynch, three children with autism wandered off and, drawn to water, drowned before they were able to be saved. Unlike the support they should be receiving, the families have been scorned by media for not watching their children. But they were, they were.
These three children could have been the child of anyone in our autism family. It could have been my daughter ten years ago when she walked right passed me, off the edge of a boat. It could have been the little boy I saw dart into an elevator, only to take it three floors down before someone caught him as he reached the exit. It could have been countless children whose parents are vigilant 24/7 yet still have to blink. It takes a village, not only to keep our children safe, but to lift up families when they are hurting instead of persecuting them when they have already experienced the most crushing of blows.
There is no room for blame in any of these situations. There is only space for more education, more support and an extra hug or ten for the children who are right in front of us.
Today I am joining with over 300 members of the autism community to spread awareness about autism and safety as we pay tribute to Mikaela and Drew and Owen… three members of this great big autism family, gone way too soon.
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