My Son Has Autism. Please Don’t Be Afraid.

by Jo on December 21, 2012

This is my son Andrew.

He has autism.

He loves the ocean


garbage trucks

bounce houses

stained glass windows

his brother Ian

the tractors from CARS

getting raspberries from his daddy

being helpful

Jesus

and his iPad

Andrew has autism.

He may be different in a lot of ways,

but he is most certainly not less.

He is not someone you should be afraid of.

But do you know what should scare you?

How quickly our society jumps to conclusions, how quickly society will believe dangerous lies in its pursuit of a scapegoat when tragedy strikes.

Did you know that after the media reported that the Newtown shooter may have  had autism, someone started a Facebook page and promised to burn a child on the spectrum for every 50 likes the page got?

Do you know what that feels like, as a parent of a child with autism?

Did you know that the autism community wants to be able to grieve with the rest of the country, but instead, we’ve been backed into a corner and forced to dispel rumors and myths that are hurtful and have potentially incomprehensible consequences for those with an Autism Spectrum diagnosis?

Did you know that people are turning away from family and friends with children on the spectrum out of fear and ignorance?

Do you know how dangerous misinformation can be, especially in the hands of people desperately seeking revenge?

Do you know how petrified I am to send my son back to school after winter break because of how some people may perceive him, judge him, based on irresponsible reporting by the media and society’s obsession with jumping to conclusions?

Please.

Don’t let fear mongering, misplaced anger, and inaccurate information infiltrate your hearts and your minds.

Autism is nothing to be afraid of.

There’s nothing scary about my son, or others like him.

Just ask me

or Andrew.

 

 

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca December 21, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Jo,
Once again, you read my “mail”, and said what we all feel. Wonderful Post. Merry Christmas friend!

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:28 am

Merry Christmas to you, friend! I know most of us share many sentiments, especially ones related to our children’s safety.

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Melanie DePietro December 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Beautifully said! I totally relate- My 14 year old is on the spectrum and there are so many similarities I can see between Andrew and my Nicky. Thank you for speaking up for our kids!

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:28 am

Your Nicky sounds wonderful Melanie! Our kids are worthy!

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Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg December 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Brava! Thank you! ((((((Hugs all around)))))))

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:27 am

You are most welcome. You’ve been doing an amazing job this week Rachel. I know it’s overwhelming and daunting, but you are making a difference. Trust me.

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Paula C. Durbin-Westby December 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Thank you! I love this.

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Thank you so much Paula for reading and sharing!

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Ashley December 22, 2012 at 12:08 am

<3 Thank you for posting this. Your words and pictures say what I've been trying and failing to say. I've passed this on.

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:31 am

Thank you Ashley.

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Alison December 22, 2012 at 12:54 am

Simply Beautiful :-)

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:31 am

Thank you.

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Courtney December 22, 2012 at 1:23 am

OMGosh, tears in my eyes!!!! Did u pull those words out of my mouth??? Andrew is simply gorgeous and I want to hug him!!!!! I will share this til the cows come home!!! :)

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:31 am

=) Thank you for reading Courtney. You are welcome to hug Andrew anytime. He loves hugs!! Thank you for sharing and I’m so happy the post resonated with you!

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Lyn Woodhouse December 22, 2012 at 2:13 am

As a grandparent of a 4 year old on the spectrum, I know how difficult it is to cope, without the disparaging looks and assumptions of strangers. D is awesome and despite his issues, we wouldn’t change anything about him. He just wouldn’t be D. Good luck to all who are living this life.

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Jo December 22, 2012 at 3:30 am

Our struggles are made exponentially more difficult when our children – both young and old – are presented in a negative and/or dangerous light. Our kids are amazing human beings and worthy or respect. To compare them to a killer will only bring harm to our community. Your D is so lucky to have a grandmother who loves him for who he is.

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Marilyn Armstrong December 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

It’s another award. Actually, it’s the same award … another star for your Blog of the Year, 2012 award. It’s my fifth. I don’t know how many you have, but I hope is at least a bit of a Christmas gift! Happy, merry and joyous celebrations!

http://teepee12.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/blog-of-the-year-2012-and-now-we-are-five/

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Amanda December 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

You have taken the words right out of my mouth! I am a mother of a 4 yr old on the spectrum and I too have a fear of sending my son back to school after Christmas break! The one thing that riminds me it will be ok is knowing the Lord will have my back! And that if I can help educate the people around us it will certainly make a difference even if its just locally! Thank you for sharing.

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Terri DuLong December 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Wonderful and honest piece of writing. Andrew is quite a handsome boy and you should be very proud of him! But it saddens me to know there is ignorance concerning this subject. And even sadder is that it has caused parents like you to feel concerned. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season. It’s obvious that Andrew is surrounded by much love.

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Marilyn Armstrong December 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Santa has way too many awards, so he’s dropping a bunch of them for you to do with as you choose. There are some real goodies in there, including another star for the Blog of the Year 2012, and 4 or 5 others. Take’em all, take your pick, enjoy. It’s Christmas, almost!

http://teepee12.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/blog-of-the-year-2012-six-stars-and-the-liebster-most-inspiring-versitile-and-reality-awards-too-plus-my-favorite-youll-see/

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Louise at BLOOM December 23, 2012 at 3:44 am

That was brilliant. I LOVED, LOVED the photos and description of Andrew. And especially the one of him shining in the light of the stain-glass window. You’re so right about people’s rush to simplistic conclusions, rush to blame, rush to find a way to distance themselves from this horrible tragedy. Have you read Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon? You may be interested in this article of his in the NY Times today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/opinion/sunday/anatomy-of-a-murder-suicide.html

Thanks for stopping by BLOOM and hope to see you again!

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Kahli December 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I seriously don’t get what’s wrong wth ppl. You don’t have to have a child with autism to be sickened by such hate and prejudice. Any and all parents should be. We’re talking about children for Pete’s sake! You can’t give any attention to idiots who look to exclude ppl for whatever reason. Those are the same people who exclude ppl of color, or women, or short ppl, etc, its all ridiculous! Please know that there are plenty of parents outside of the autism community that support you and your family.

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Stimey December 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Your kiddo is gorgeous. As is this post.

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Jo December 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Thank you my amazing friend.

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Cait Martello December 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

One week after the tragedy and the only people with a medical diagnosis of autism are two of the little angels and NOT the perpetrator. Does the media even comprehend that for two families dealing with loss, their grief has been compounded by this misinformation? Funny how in their haste to get headlines, they play fast and loose with the truth but when the dust settles, they aren’t in a hurry to clean up the mess.

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pmfm December 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm

beautiful. thank you.

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Ti January 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Brilliantly written.. I really wish and hope the society becomes more conscious and be less judgemental. You have a lovely boy!! :)
Hugs and lots of love!! Have a beautiful year!!

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Marilyn Armstrong January 13, 2013 at 6:30 am

I have give you the “Shine On Award” for service. This is not a “blogging” award, but is an actual real award given to people who make a different. I think that you work on behalf of autism and you opinion pieces make a real contribution. There are NO “requirements” involved. You can pass it to others you feel deserve it or not. No questions to answer either.

Please drop by: http://teepee12.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/shine-on/

All the best,

Marilyn at Serendipity

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