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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As a woman with Asperger’s and the mother of a daughter with Aspergers, I am appalled at the callousness of these people. These poor kids who drowned had an accident. It can literally happen to anyone. It wasn’t lack of supervision. Things like this, unfortunately, happen. When I was little, I was drawn to plugs and outlets. I loved to touch the metal when I plugged things in. I liked to see electricity arc and I scared the heck out of my mom. My Dad, who is also an Aspie, totally got the fascination. They still are surprised I never burned the house down.
Excellent post Jessica. So glad the autism community did this day of support, but still so sad that we even had to…
This is so tragic.
Thank you for being the voice behind these beautiful souls.
People are ignorant and need education.
Couldn’t agree more, people need a big dose of compassion in this situation. I feel horrible for this family that they could be feeling so much blame on top of the pain.
The WHeelchair Mommy says
People forget that this kind of tragedy can happen to ANYONE. It’s not the parent’s fault and it’s not because the child was Autistic. My own child ran into the elevator too quickly once and had to ride it up and down again. Teenagers and Adults can drown. When it happens people need to be empathetic and kind. Not hurtful and mean.
My heart TRULY goes out to these families and again to you for putting up with people that just don’t know how to do something as simple as being nice.
Thank you for your kind words, I feel so awful for these families and the thought that they should be made to feel any worse than they already do is unimaginable.
Sending virtual hugs to you all – Mikaela, Drew and Owen’s families – and to yours too. xo
I am so amazed at the outpouring of love and support – well, actually, I’m not – we are one community, one family as you said. These three angels are not our children but at the same time they are. I am hoping that through these tragic examples, change comes. People stop turning away because “it isn’t my life” and realize we are in a world together and as such need to be there for support and to uplift eachother – not blame or chastise. We are human. Thank you for your post!
I hope so too, it is truly time for people to work together to keep our kids safe, no more turning the other cheek.
It breaks my heart that these families are being judged. They are already going through so much and to have that judgement on top of it is truly awful. My child has wandered off a few times. I took my eyes off of him for seconds and he was gone. Thankfully, we have always found him before anything happened to him, but I know how easily it could have turned out differently.
It makes me feel awful too. I wish there was a way to shield them from the things being said but I know they have already heard. I’m sure they are going through the “what if’s” enough without anyone else doing it for them.
Alicia King says
Thank you for writing this, Jessica! Take autism out of the equation and the lesson remains the same- children are unpredictable and parents are human. When tragedy strikes, there is no place for blame. Grieving hearts NEED love and compassion, kindness and understanding. Not judgement. Never judgement.
I couldn’t agree with you more, there is no room for blame or judgement in this story.