The members of this family are not citizens of my country, nor are they members of my faith. There is only one thing that links us together...Autism. We have worked together to help their son, who is non-verbal, for the last 3 months. It was my great joy to hear him say "Hi!" to me about two weeks ago. What a great day that was!
This evening I received an emergency message from *Jane, *Johnny's mother. She asked me to contact her immediately. I did so. I listened to the interpreter explain the situation to me. My heart broke and my soul cringed in horror as I heard the word every person who loves these silent ones fears. Abuse.
Johnny had his communication with his mother unlocked two weeks ago. He has spent the last two weeks assuring her of his love. He has expressed joy and happiness. Today he expressed pain to her. Today he told her, in his limited way of communicating that some very bad things had happened to him. As I listened, all I could do is sob and breathe. There is nothing else to do. Each time I hear something like this, it tears at my soul. And it makes me want to work all the harder to reach as many families as I can. To make certain that every child has a form of communication that can be understood by those who love them.
Tonight I find comfort in music again. This song was shared with me a couple of weeks ago. The artist is the sister of a college friend of mine. The artist's name is Amy Guess. This song is the only expression of persistence I can find within my soul right now.
Let us work. Let us not sit down and grieve but find in this tragedy a renewed, fervent dedication to see the bonds of silence broken forever. I was tired. I am no longer. I am driven. The more families who find the doors of communication thrown open, the more joys can be created and tragedies averted.
Tonight I am telling myself, "Do not sit and cry. Do not fall down and weep. 'I dare you to move! I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor. I dare you to move like today never happened.'"
*Names are changed to protect the privacy of this family.