Archive | May, 2013

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.


Comments { 1 }

I will not judge you

be curious not judgementalWe are a judgmental species. We judge others the moment we meet them. How a person looks, how they behave, what they wear, how they speak, the words they use, their posture and then, if we ever get that far, their decisions and opinions. We can’t help it. We form our own opinions, not just of those traits but of those people themselves, without even knowing them.

If you feel that you are judged by everyone, everywhere you go, I want you to know that I will not judge you.

If you find parenting hard, I will not judge you. If you feel that you are struggling, I will not judge you. If you have your own vices and/or demons, I will not judge you.

If you’re a strange one, I will not judge you. If you are the “odd one out”, I will not judge you.

If have friends that others do not approve of, I will not judge you. If you support charities or groups that others find appalling, I will not judge you.

If you wish that your child did not have a disorder or disability, I will not judge you. If you wish that you yourself did not have a disorder or disability, I will not judge you.

If you screw up despite your best intentions, I will not judge you. If you screw up without the best of intentions, I still will not judge you.

Bad jokes, inappropriate jokes, saying the wrong thing or just plain old getting it wrong, I will not judge you.

If you love yourself, hate yourself, mock yourself or wish you were anyone but you, I will not judge you.

I am in no position to judge you nor should I ever assume that I am. I can’t and I won’t. You are who you are and who you are is a result of who you’ve always been. I, therefore, can pass no judgment without knowing you since birth and so I won’t. Human nature or not, I will not judge you.

It’s not my place.

Comments { 2 }

The Great Bike Giveaway – Have a special child that needs a special bike? This is for you!

My son, Cameron, is going to turn 8 this summer and still can’t handle a bicycle very well. He can ride up and down the sidewalk with training wheels but is still struggling with it. He has autism, which most people think of as being a purely mental disorder but the truth is that in some cases, it can render a person’s muscles very unwieldy. He looks very awkward when he runs, he has a hard time with games of coordination and has not yet mastered the art of playing catch. All of these things, by the way, his 5 year old younger brother can do quite well.

The Friendship Circle is doing something totally awesome in creating The Great Bike Giveaway. With a name like that, you expect that perhaps they’re just giving away some mountain bikes or something but actually, they are giving away very very special bikes that are specially built for those that have very special needs.

And not just one kind of bike that might help but several very different bikes that will suit very different needs! That means that what ever your little one, or even yourself, might be in need of, there’s a good chance that one of these bikes will be just what you’re looking for.

There’s only about a week left so you have to get moving quick… go to The Great Bike Giveaway, choose the bike that looks right for you and submit your entry into the contest. Once you’ve done that, get some family, friends and social media circles to nominate you and you’re in.

By Friendship Circle

By Friendship Circle

Comments { 0 }