Monday, May 20, 2013

Time for Tears

Today many in the autism and special needs community are honoring the memory of Mikaela Lynch
by publishing supportive blog posts for her family. Mikaela wandered from her home on May 12, Mother's Day, and her body was found on May 15 near a creek where she drowned. Mikaela had autism and the family, like many others in the autism community, struggled with autism elopement and various sensory concerns with their daughter.

My heart goes out to the Lynch family. I have two daughters with autism and I understand the constant fear of "what if they wander?" I understand the constant struggle to keep clothing on children who struggle to feel okay in their own skin, let alone skin that's covered with clothing. The Lynch family had Mikaela to love for nine short years, it was too short and they are grieving a horrible loss that no parent ever wants to face. Unfortunately, they've also had to face a lack of understanding from the media from day one in this horrible chain of events.

I am reminded constantly today of a song that I love, by Charlie Peacock - Now is the Time for Tears.

Now is the time for tears
Don't speak
Save your words
There's nothing you could say
To take this pain away
Don't try so hard
You can just simply be
Cry with me don't try to fix me friend
That's how you'll comfort me

Heavenly Father cover this child with mercy
You are my helper through this time of trial and pain
Silence the lips of the people with all of the answers
Gently show them now is the time
Now is the time
Now is the time for tears

I don't know the Lynch family. I don't know their religious beliefs or even if they have any. I do know that the last 8 days have been the worst days in their lives and the media hasn't helped. Today, I cry with them. Today, I support them in their love for their daughter and in this debilitating blow that is their worst nightmare come to life. I do think they'd appreciate the comfort of simple tears, simple support, simple hugs, simple love - and I hope they receive that all today and for many, many days to come.

I've also learned of two other children with autism who wandered from safety this week and were found later dead. Autism elopement is a real issue and as a parent of autistic children, I'm astounded by how little we talk about this issue in the community, in the press, even in the therapy office. I think I've been hoping my two little girls will simply "grow out of " their desire to wander, but I'm beginning to understand this type of constant vigilance may simply be my life.

I also learned that there are tools out there that may help parents like the Lynches and like myself with this important safety issue. If you worry about your special needs child wandering then you may want to sign up for a Big Red Safety Box to help you.  If you don't have a child with special needs, but would like to help others who struggle with the wandering or running issues, you can help by making a donation to the Big Red Safety Box grant program. Today is the day for our communities to come together and support families who struggle with these kinds of safety issues every single day.

No one should ever have to endure the type of Mother's Day the Lynches did this year. Mikaela Lynch was loved, of that I am sure. Mikaela Lynch's death was a tragedy, and I weep for her family. Now is indeed the time for tears.

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