Ironically, the glimmers of hope and humanity came in unexpected places and through devastatingly sad stories. To know at least one child murdered in Newtown died in the arms of his aide, a teacher trained to support youngsters with autism, made me weep for all the victims even more, my heart shattering into more pieces than I thought possible.
In millions of households there were billions of tears shed during the past week for children and adults we did not know. In response, there was a wonderful campaign, hatched via Twitter (hash-tag #26Acts). While my family has joined, with pleasure, in our commitment to commit these random acts of kindness, it was still vexing my soul that autism had been part of this rage, both in the victims and allegedly in the killer.
When Autism Shines created a forum for people to share the faces of autism, pictures along with captions about the beautiful, positive things these kids live with, I knew immediately that my son would be included. It's an opportunity to say something to the world. Something very important that people need to hear.
I have nothing profound to add to the gun debate. I profess, as I always have, that no one needs to own an automatic rifle for self-protection. That access to firearms and ammunition is completely out-of-control and unregulated if one considers you can buy anything off the internet.
I simply want to share, maybe shout from a mountain top, that autism isn't violent. It's not all bad either, although it certainly doesn't bring sunshine and roses to our lives, or Andrew's, all the time. To my knowledge, my little man has never picked up a toy gun, even a water gun. He gives hugs, kisses on the head, and plays with stuffed bears. Andrew is a face of autism and, despite my obvious bias speaking as his mother, it is one beautiful face indeed. He is proof autism is shining.
Photo by Kristin Chalmers Photography