|Madeline & Natalie|
Whoever made the claim that words could ease the pain/ Never watched your tears fill up an ocean/ Never saw your face, the moment you found out/ That you'd have to live without, until heaven.........
To the parents of Mikaela Lynch:
In the months after my stepson's passing I stayed away from social media. Newtown did me in. I couldn't take it. I left the internet to itself while I tried desperately to sort out my feelings.
|Madeline and Natalie|
But I have other children. I had to still live my life. Life did insist on swirling around me. Our impending appointments to get both my girls diagnosed with Autism woke me up out of my funk. I had so many questions even after a year or two reading everything I could on the subject.
|Natalie and Madeline|
Facebook put me in touch with so many people going through the same situation as I. As well as people who were further along down the line.
Is there somethin' I can do other than being here for you to ease the pain/ If I can keep you from fallin', fallin' down'/ I'm sorry to sound selfish but I feel so helpless/ Is it okay if I stay here with you and cry for awhile
Not long after the diagnosis in April, my 4 year old ran away from me. It wasn't the first time but this time she got much farther in a shorter period of time. It scared me to my core when I found her down the street in a field.
It terrified me.
|My wee little wanderer.|
I started "liking" every page I could about wandering.
A little time went by and then little Mikaela showed up on my feed.
I cannot describe to you the impact your little girl made on me. It's like I saw my Natalie.
|This is how I'll always see her.|
Maybe it was the angle of her glance. Maybe it was the twinkle in her eyes or the sunny, full grin smile. As I read the details of the case it was as if someone walked over my grave. Natalie hates to wear clothes & diaper when she is hot. She's a nonverbal child with Autism. She loves to wander. Her curiosity is boundless. She's extremely attracted to water.
I didn't share this but with one person that last year Natalie almost drowned. We were at a park by a lake. Natalie took off running and went into the lake. Even though I was seconds behind her she was caught in the current and went under. It flipped her over so I could see strait into her eyes. She was reaching out to me to save her. I ALMOST DIDN'T. This was with a life guard right there. He never moved. Both of us soaking wet..we cried clinging to each other.
This experience has never deterred her from water.
I shared the story with my friends as well as my fan page. Then I wrote about it.
A short time after that I heard amateur journalist make accusations that enraged me. It enraged my fellow friends who are parents of children with Autism.
No one really knows until it happens to them. No one really know the reality of raising children with this condition. While each child is unique...the "eloping" is a common characteristic.
I'm you. I'm the parent of a child prone to wandering. I live near water not 200 feet from my house.
More and more bloggers and parents took action against the speculative claims. We wanted to shield you during this time. I remained glued to the computer. I prayed so hard I thought my brain would explode from it.
Whoever made the claim that words could ease the pain/ Never watched you fall apart, never put you back together/ When you were broken down, into a million pieces/ Scattered on the ground
And the announcement came. She had been found. But not as anyone..most of all you..had hoped.
It was like time stood still. I just stared at the screen and sobbed. I know it may seem silly that I felt such anguish for people I never met. I realize I must sound ridiculous. But it's true.
When my husband came home he saw my face and knew it. He said, "They found her in the water?" It was a statement not a question. My husband is in law enforcement. He knows how many of these stories end. That night we tucked the girls in our bed and hugged them into the wee morning hours even though they had school the next day.
The grief in the Autism community could be felt all over. Collectively we all wanted to take your pain away. But we knew we couldn't. Even though I haven't met any of these parents in person I knew we were all looking at each other with the same thing on our minds.
We saw our sons and daughters in Mikaela. We see ourselves in you. With our voices raised we just wanted to say that even though we have never met:
We love you.
We support you.
Your daughter's legacy will be life. Your daughter has woke me up from my grief stricken daze to see what I have here with me. I need to do more than just advocate for my own family..but for others in the same situation. The more awareness the more lives we save.
Is there somethin' I can do/ What can I say, what can I do. ~Five Star Iris Music and Lyrics by Alan Schaefer and Dexter Green
There is always something you can do. Care. Become educated about what to do to prevent wandering emergencies and what to do if the crisis happens.
|(She dressed herself)|
From AWAARE.ORG's Website:
"A variety of resources are available from tracking devices to door chimes to service dogs. Close adult supervision, along with a combination of security and safety measures and tools can work to prevent a wandering emergency. Below, please find a variety of resources that may be suitable for your loved one’s safety needs."
- AWAARE autism-wandering prevention brochure
- First Responder Alert Form
- Family Wandering Emergency Plan (FWEP) Template
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Sample Letter
- Social Stories
- AUTISM SPEAKS AUTISM SAFETY PROJECT
- CHILD SAFETY PRODUCTS
- SERVICE DOGS
- TRACKING SYSTEMS & MEDICAL DEVICES
- Project Lifesaver: http://www.projectlifesaver.org
- LoJack SafetyNet: http://www.lojacksafetynet.com
- Alzheimer’s Comfort Zone: http://www.alz.org/comfortzone
- FOR FIRST RESPONDERS & CAREGIVERS
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com 1-800-THE-LOST
- Autism Risk Management: http://www.autismriskmanagement.com
- A CHILD IS MISSING: http://www.achildismissing.org
- The Autism & Law Enforcement Education Coalition: http://www.sncarc.org/alec.htm
- The Law Enforcement Awareness Network: http://www.leanonus.org
- Autism Alliance for Local Emergency Responder Training: http://www.AutismAlert.org
- PA Premise Alert: http://www.papremisealert.com
|All my bandits.|