Tag Archives | safety

Until it happens to you – Honoring Mikaela Lynch

Do you remember when you first heard about autism? I don’t. I’m fairly certain it was long before I ever became a parent, but I don’t remember exactly. I find the same to be true of most parents that I talk to. We just don’t bother learning about it because it doesn’t pertain to us, therefore, it doesn’t interest us. Until we have a child with autism. Then we have no choice. But what if we had learned about it before the fact? I think, and it may be just me, that it would have helped me immensely to know more about autism before I had to.

Now, as recent events teach us, elopement, or wandering, is far too real and it happens far too frequently. Both Mikaela Lynch and Owen Black were found within one week of each, on opposites sides of the US, in water… dead. All it took was a split second, their parents lost sight of them for just a split second, and they were gone. Have you ever looked away from your child for more than second? I know have. A lot. In fact, I’d wager that it’s pretty much impossible to have your child in your line of sight at all times for years, much less decades.

But these aren’t the first children to wander off. They aren’t the first to be found in the most tragic way possible. And unfortunately, they very likely won’t be the last. And the reason, I fear, is that many people will read these stories with a heavy heart, feeling much sorrow and then moving on and not learning more. Because it doesn’t pertain to them. It doesn’t interest them.

This isn’t something that you can put off or dismiss because it doesn’t interest you. This isn’t something that you should wait to learn more about until it happens to you. If the deaths of these innocent little children is to mean anything, I would hope that it serves as a lesson to the rest of us to not wait… to not let it happen to us and then wish we had learned more earlier.

autism elopmentThe National Autism Association has taken action to help people be proactive in learning more and being prepared now, not later. Their Big Red Safety Box is a great start in preventing these tragedies from hitting much closer to home than you’d like. I strongly advise that you either take them up on this offer or at the very least, read about it, learn about it and prepare in your own way.

I don’t know the families of the children and I don’t know exactly what happened on those days. I do know, however, that this could have happened to anyone. No one is to blame. No one is at fault. What those people need is support, a shoulder, a hug. No media circus, no questions about how they could have let it happen, no accusations, no guilt.

If it had happened to me, I’d be devastated. I’d be furious. I’d be at my lowest. But it could have happened to me. It could have! And I have no idea how to prevent it. Because until now, I’ve read the news stories and in time, forgotten them. Because until now, I kept thinking that it was just something that happened to other people.

I sit here, wondering if those families were like me. Dismissing the stories, forgetting the lessons… until it happened to them. Did they know about autism before their child’s diagnosis? Did they know about how often children with autism wander away from safety and into danger? Did they know how often children with autism are found later, dead, in water?

I bet they know now. All too well. Not just about their own child but about the facts, the figures, the statistics.

I’m not Mikaela Lynch’s dad, but I would like to think that if I was, I’d want other dads to learn to not put off learning, to not dismiss the lessons being taught this day and most importantly, to not forget.

I put off learning about autism until I had no choice. I’d hate to think how I would feel if I put off learning about autistic elopement until it’s too late. I’d hate to think that I had learned the risks and learned the steps to avoid it and had the chance to take it… but forgot and failed to prevent it.

I certainly can’t speak for the families of these children nor any families that have gone through this previously but I would like to think, if there was anything those people could hope to come from these great tragedies is that the rest of us learn to not wait until it happens to us before we decide to do something about it.


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Let me just make one thing very clear…

Let’s talk about vaccines for a minute. It’s not my favourite topic because I feel it’s the one topic that breaks apart the Autism community when we really should be standing up together and supporting each other.

First and foremost let me say, no, I do not believe that vaccines cause Autism. That does not mean that I do not think that there could be situations where a vaccination could trigger an already pre-existing condition (like Autism for example) which would cause a regression.

Do I think vaccines are perfectly safe? No, of course not. Not even their inventors and marketers think they’re perfectly safe. Everyone knows there is a certain % of people that have adverse reactions, allergic reactions, side effects and sometimes, even cause death.

Do I think that the recent Wakefield news means anything in regards to the vaccine risks? No. They simply proved that he lied, fabricated his evidence and findings. It doesn’t prove anything about what vaccines do or do not do though, just that his findings didn’t prove anything one way or another.

I have said since day one that if you have concerns, ask your doctor a million questions and demand a schedule that you feel more comfortable with but please please please do not deny vaccinations entirely.

Here’s the thing, this is where I think that things have gone wrong:

  1. People forget what these illnesses can do and what they’re like.
    Most of them don’t sound so bad, most of them many people had as children themselves and again, weren’t so bad. But you’re remembering and thinking of a very small piece of an entirely much larger picture. These simply “cough and get over it” illnesses do kill people! Some disfigure, some kill.. some simply clog the medical community with thousands upon hundreds of thousands of hospital visits.
  2. People think that an all but gone illness can’t come back.
    If it’s not gone, it can come back. In fact, that’s the very nature of these illnesses in the first place… to spread! It’s particularly ironic in a country like the US where most people complain about the immigration rates that they’d possibly think that an illness that still inhabits other countries could never actually find their way back in.
  3. People forget that there are babies, elderly and other lower immunity tolerance people out there.
    Yes, measles as a kid is rough, but in a senior citizen? Deadly. Whooping cough means a hospital visit for most people, it means almost certain death for a baby. When you or I talk about the illnesses these vaccines prevent, we picture ourselves and our children but in reality, much like the flu, it can kill people that are less equipped to fight it off.

Listen, without vaccines, I believe that by now, we’d probably be seeing a word wide population decrease at this point, rather than our continuing increase.  If nothing else, we’d certainly have far less medical resources to be keeping us healthy. I mean, think about it… how bad is health care where you are?? How bad would it be if a few million people every year were in there with all these diseases that are preventable?

Do I promote getting vaccines? Yes.
Do I also promote safe vaccine schedules? Yes.
Do I promote more research into all of the dangers of vaccines? Yes.
Do I promote more research into finding better and safer ingredients to be used in vaccines? Yes!

The way I see it, if they can pump out a newer and better cell phone every 3 months, they can have new and better vaccines as well.

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that I am happy with the way things are… or that I think a certain % of vaccine injuries or deaths is just acceptable. The numbers can always be improved!

But don’t ever think that I am supposed to be out there inciting fear, panic and further division within the Autism community. That simply is not my goal. I understand if it’s not yours either but let’s be honest, many who do hate vaccines, and vaccine makers, do push the boundaries too far. They want others to share in their hatred. They want others to take up a pitchfork and fight along side them.

I am not that person.

Ask for a safer schedule, petition to have more research and safer vaccines created. But never think that not preventing many illnesses is a good way to maybe lower the risk of Autism.

Stop listening to Wakefield, stop listening to anti-vaccination people, stop listening to conspiracy theorists, stop listening to pharmaceutical companies, stop listening to marketers, stop listening to pro-vaccination people… stop listening to me!

Use some common sense, use some rational thinking… do your research, do your reading. Look at the numbers, look at the history. Ask yourself, if it’s all a risk, if it’s all about choosing from bad and bad, why would you opt for denying what you know will be prevented?

Option A prevents X, Y, Z and may cause Q
Option B prevents nothing, so you may get X, Y, Z and still may cause Q anyway
Which makes more sense??

My wife suggested that I make my blog’s tagline “using common sense”… because I pride myself in doing just that. That’s all that I see in this matter, is to use common sense.

Fight for safer vaccines. Fight for a safer schedule. Fight for more safety with our children!!

But never forget that safer actually means taking the vaccines. It does save lives.

This is my official stance on vaccines. I know it’s a hot topic, I know not everyone will agree. Please do not get mad if you don’t. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and as such, I would never think poorly of you for yours. We need to support each other in pushing for the discovery of the true cause, a way to help those that have Autism and for more resources in schools, work, housing and more. Let’s work together.

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The scariest part of going grocery shopping with our son

Today my wife took my boys shopping for groceries and as always, it can be tiring keeping an eye on them, answering all their questions, stopping them from running around, from grabbing/touching everything and so on and so forth.

But what proved to be, and continues to be the most difficult aspect is the parking lot. It’s also the scariest.

parking lot

Danger everywhere

The parking lot is scary enough just because children are children… they don’t recognize the dangers as well, they aren’t as aware of their surroundings as well, they simply aren’t in control of themselves as well.

What makes it so much worse for a child with #Autism is that they lack the ability to focus and to maintain disciplined motor skills.

A parking lot presents a lot of stimulation to overwhelm a young child’s mind, with people everywhere, cars either moving or sitting still, lights, the weather, not knowing where to go, the smells… plus, many children see it as a big area to play in.

For a child with Autism, it can overwhelm them just as much as any area inside the store except that a parking lot has a lot more dangers.

While walking towards the store, my wife had both of my boys holding onto the cart that she had grabbed, this way they’re always close. However, as a truck slowly crawled up along side them, Cameron still did what he often does when excited and overwhelmed… he walked with his arms flailing wildly at his sides and took steps as if the ground was wavering beneath him.

As the truck was nearly beyond them, he took one step wider to the side than normal, as if falling over.. my wife yanked him back quickly because if she hadn’t, his foot would have been run over by the truck’s back tire.

Imagine, you’re doing everything right with keeping your children close, they have a hand on the cart, you’re watching everything and in less than a second, a single wild step could mean a trip to the hospital, or worse.

Often when people talk about grocery shopping with child that has Autism, the discussion focuses around meltdowns, over stimulation and other parents being judgmental. Really though, we need to recognize and remember that getting in and out of the store is the most dangerous part and needs to be handled with care.

Here are some tips, that we’ve learned through trial and error, on getting through the parking lot safely.

  1. Grab a cart as soon as you can after leaving your vehicle. Then:
    a. Put your child(ren) in the cart for a fun bumpy ride.
    b. Put your child(ren) between you and the handle, so that your arms are around them. Let them push the cart to help out, but keep your hands on theirs or at least on the handle
    c. Make sure your children are making contact with the cart at all times so that, even if something unexpected does happen, you’re at least close enough to make a quick reaction.
  2. If you have no cart, keep your child between you and the parked cars so that the cars in motion are along side you, not them.
  3. Don’t take no for an answer. Children with Autism will be very reluctant to hold your hand but that’s just too bad. Do it anyway. Better a meltdown in the store than an accident in the parking lot.

My son was almost hurt today and my wife did everything right… in fact, it’s a good thing she did or else he very likely would have been injured.

The less your child is capable of focusing, the more you have to! Be aware at all times, do the things you need to do at all times. The consequences of a single moment in time that you let it slide could be too unbearable to think about.

Comments { 3 }