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In the Mist of Tragedy

I have been thinking over the last few days about the events that have taken place in CT. As a nation we are devastated about the loss of young lives and strong hard working people. It is natural during this time to search for an answer. We want to find the easy way out so that we can move on safe in our minds with a point a finger. We want to get back to the safety of our homes and give our kids an extra hug each day. The thing is that this unfortunate event has me hurt in more ways than I can describe. I love children. I love all children. I love my children. I love children of all needs. I love what I do. I am passionate about working in the autism field. I love people with autism. I believe in change and growth and that everyone can persevere through the most difficult of challenges and times.

So, here it is… my heart broken for every child that has had their life cut short by such an unbelievable act. As a society we thought that Columbine was enough. We thought that Virginia Tech was the end. We never thought that we would be in this place of hurt again. For some reason each of those little lives seems like one of my own children’s lives. I want to cry every time I think of those little ones not graduating from high school, meeting the loves of their lives, or making the future for themselves. As a parent I cannot imagine the pain that their parents must be feeling at such a horrific time.

There are hero’s amongst this story. There are adults who gave their lives so that so many young children could live. So that they could see another day. So that they could go home and hug their mom and dad. There are adults that allowed their dreams to be cut short so that a young dream can grow. As a professional often in the classroom either as a person to help the children I am working with or to help out in my own child’s classroom I question where my response would be. These adults did not flinch. They did not question. They took their job very seriously and protected tomorrows future.

I know that everyone is talking about this horrific event. I know that your heart is breaking too as your mind tries to wrap around the whys and hows. There is one part however that is troubling for me. The young man that committed this horrible act was not well mentally. There are many things we will never know about his mind and what he was truly thinking that day. He has been labeled as having Asperger’s or Autism. He has been said to be on the spectrum somehow and I am afraid of how this will impact the future of young children (1 in 88) who truly have an autism spectrum disorder. I am afraid that you the public will be afraid of this beautiful group of people who are growing and learning everyday to be better and to be their best.

For me it is important to set the record straight. Autism is not an emotional disorder or a psychosis. People with autism are not necessarily violent or scary. Please do not shy away from a person because they have autism. If you do not know what autism is please educate yourself because the media is doing a horrible job of stigmatizing all people with autism through this tragic event. I have gotten the best hugs and the most thoughtful thank you’s from people with autism. I have watched beautiful souls and personalities develop through my 13 years of working in the field. Please remember that there are very confused and bad people all over the world and that one single word does not describe them. I am saddened by the fact that the word autism associated with this horrific event has brought on a backlash of concern in this beautiful community of hard working families and loving children.

Please keep and open mind. Please hug your children every day. Let them know you love them and why you love them. Please let them know they are beautiful no matter what. The sad truth is that you don’t know if you or they will return at the end of the day. My heart is broken for all the mommies and daddies that will not be able to love their children tonight because of this event. My soul is torn for the hero’s that gave their lives for the children that are safe in bed tonight. I am full of hope for everyone that will look past the label tonight and will make a difference tomorrow.

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