(8.3.2010) About two years ago an eight year old boy with autism who was being treated by our therapy team had a massive seizure in his sleep and died.  I will always remember him because he was one of the severe children with self injurious behaviors and a great smile when he was happy.  I will remember his family as his mother was trying to master the English language and did not receive all the services she could have due to the language barrier.  I will remember the day I received the news that he passed away…it was right in the middle of my day..I still had clients to see after I received the news. I found that throughout that day and week…I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together enough.

What I knew for sure about his death is that he was loved by his family.  The autism brought a stressor to this single mother of two and first generation American.  I knew that this mother was stressed and what I respected most about her is that she spoke to anyone who would listen.  She soaked up all the encouragement she could from others and loved on her son.

She always communicated.  She spoke aloud.  She screamed.  She tried to understand what the therapist were saying.  She worked with him at home.  She found therapists that cared who found other agencies to support her and the family.

I am disturbed by the number of deaths of children with autism by those that love them as this phenom continues to be highlighted in the media.  I am disturbed that this has not caused people to move beyond the talk of disbelief and ridicule of these families.  I am disturbed by the level of judgement toward people who could not deal with their life’s stressors.  Because the truth is, we all get stressed.

Each time I read or listen to these particularly disturbing news stories, I wonder “Did this person not feel comfortable to be authentic and articulate how they really felt?,  Did those around this person brush aside the feelings articulated?”  I also wonder “Were the danger signs ignored?”.

I honestly don’t know how it feels to parent.  That does not discount my argument because it is strengthened by the fact that I am a human being with feelings.   I know that whether your child is an atypical or typical learner, it is challenging work.  I just can’t imagine not being able to articulate to those close to me how I feel when my life is challenging and thankful to those that don’t dismiss my statements whether “over the top” or understated.

As the world moves forward and as we start to support families of people with special needs…let’s give them room to be honest about how they feel, where they stand, and offer yourself as a resource to them.

I continue to applaud the mother of the client that passed away.  She vented.  We listened.  We provided a professional counselor as a resource.  She was healthy.

Remember it only takes one person to assist and listen to another person.

Let’s Support Families (Moms Dads Siblings) and allow them to SCREAM when they must!  Truth be told, we all need to scream…sometimes! 🙂

Enjoy and Be Empowered

Landria Seals Green

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