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Posts Tagged ‘mikaela lynch’

Last week I wrote —>this<— in response to a self-proclaimed crime analyst/profiler/blogger who attacked the family of Mikaela Lynch by blaming the parents for her death.  In a nutshell, this was the post: the First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole…that doesn’t mean the First Amendment tells you to BE an asshole.  The concept being that although the First Amendment protects your right to free speech, this picture of Moses bringing down the Two Commandments reminds you to temper that free speech with a little compassion.

This applies to EVERYONE

This applies to EVERYONE

I was pretty proud of the post, and I got some positive feedback from many parents in the autism community.

Boy, it didn’t take some of them very long to turn the tables right around and be just as vicious, just as cruel, just as mean and cliquey as that self-proclaimed crime analyst who had attacked them just days earlier.  Had they turned their emotional anger toward that self-proclaimed crime analyst/profiler/blogger, I would have chalked it up as karma, but these parents have chosen to attack one of their own.  Well, that’s not quite right.  They have chosen to silence nearly half, yes HALF of the autism community.  Which half you may ask?  The half that IS autistic.  Ironic, isn’t it?  The reason?  Because the autistic people they are attacking aren’t parents.  In these parents’ views, an autistic person who is not the parent of an autistic child can’t possibly know anything about anything that has to do with caring for an autistic person.

What?

One of their arguments compares autistics trying to give their perspective on the emotional topic of wandering to a layman giving medical advice on how to cure cancer.  One blogger literally told autistics to, and I quote, “Shut Up!”

Um, really?

So, hmm, let’s use this comparison: a government body of over 500 hundred mostly white, grumpy old men dictating what half of the population (women) can and cannot do with their bodies when it comes to the emotional topic of reproductive rights.  Guess what – those moms are NOT the women in this comparison, they are the grumpy, white, old men.  Why?  Because, going by their argument, how can they possibly know anything about anything in regard to bringing forth bills and passing laws and dealing with lobbyists – they can’t so STFU!  Oh, you’ve studied the law?  Well, you’re not and never have been a member of Congress, so STFU!  Oh, you’ve worked for your local government?  That’s cute.  You’re not a member of Congress, so STFU!

But that’s stupid, isn’t it?  I mean, really.  How is it okay to tell the very population you are trying to protect to shut up?  Again, kind of repeating what I said last week, if you want to tell people to shut up, I suppose it IS you First Amendment right…but you would be in direct opposition to God’s Two Commandments – 1. Be Cool and most important in my opinion 2. Don’t Be an Asshole.  Being mean and cliquey really just reveals that you’re mean and cliquey…and that you’ve broken the 2nd Commandment and are an asshole.

When it comes to the topic of wandering, I agree that we must find a way to make sure our kids are protected, but we must be willing to listen to autistic people, if for nothing else possibly discovering that there might be a reason for some, and I stress the word SOME, of the wandering.  This video, made by an autistic person, is not the answer, but it does give perspective, another way to look at the sitation.

What surprises me is that people got upset at this video.  In hearing some of the responses, however, I came to understand that they cherry picked what they heard, choosing not to hear the rest.

Sound very Congress-like, no?

Yes, it touches on a subject that most parents’ of autistics cringe at – abuse – but he goes on to say that particular situation is in a very small minority.  As Jess asked her readers yesterday, take a moment to listen, really listen!  And then I ask you to temper your use of the First Amendment with the First and Second Commandments.

If you don’t want people like Chelsea Hoffman being an asshole to you and your community, then don’t be an asshole to the very community you are trying to protect.

And don’t be a grumpy, old white Congressman who thinks he knows it all.

And remember, just because the First Amendment protects your the right to be an asshole…it doesn’t mean you HAVE to be an asshole.

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It happened in what felt like an instant.  With family and friends visiting, we were all playing, laughing, chatting in the backyard.  I think Brooke must have been maybe 4 years old.  At that point we were a relatively newly diagnosed family.  Jess and I were a bit overwhelmed by the sudden, almost complete opacity of our now uncertain future.

One moment we were all yucking it up, the kids running about, and the next moment it was, “where’s Brooke?”

The conversation stopped.

Someone asked the other children if they knew where Brooke was – blank stares.

Within seconds several of us were bolting to the other side of the house, which is where we found her, maybe 3 or 4 feet from the street, completely unaware of the dangers in front of her.

The next day I called a guy about putting in a fence, which we had in place within a week.

***

It could happen to anyone.  As parents, we have all had that moment of panic, that moment of where’s my baby? 99.999% of the time, we find them, oblivious to the unintentional scare they have put us through.

Whether or not a child is autistic, if the stars line up just so, something like what happened to Mikaela Lynch and her family could happen to anyone.  It happened again this weekend in South Florida where we lost a young boy to wandering and then drowning.

Some people have had the nerve to call into question the parenting skills of those kids’ mothers; that they should have been watching them at the time, as if they should have known that that was the moment.  Last week I responded to some of those people by asking them to a) take some time to actually walk in the shoes of the parents they were bashing and b) remember that the First Amendment must be tempered by the Two (Yes, TWO!) Commandments.

A lot (A LOT!) of our kids are escape artists on a Houdini-like level.  We can put up gates and locks and other barriers, and our kids, with their unique perception of the world around them, can see the invisible, gaping hole we have left for them to walk through.  We can buckle ’em down in car seats six ways to Sunday, and they will still be able to squirm their way out like master contortionists.

Until we learn, or at least make a genuine effort, to see the world through the eyes of autistic people, our children will always see our own deficits as security experts.

***

Does that mean we need to watch our kids 24/7?

Sure…

But I defy anyone who says they can or do.

Is there anyone who can honestly say they are capable of that?  And if you think that you are capable of watching your child 24 hours a day, then do it after a week of daily meltdowns in public, less than 3 hours of sleep a night and hours of personally working as your child’s ABA therapist because you have to.  If you don’t take a calculated moment to breath here and there, then at some point, you WILL break – it’s not a question of if, but when.  Add to that the complete isolation from extended family and those once considered friends that many parents face and the parental duties become that much harder.

That’s why we take 30 seconds to pee in private or walk inside for less than a minute to sip a cold mug of coffee or step outside just to take a breath – those micro-breaks are what keep us from breaking,  and 99.999% of the time nothing happens and the world keeps chugging along.

***

There should be no judging or bashing of Mikaela’s family, her mother Bari in particular.

None.

Because it happens.

For so long society has brushed our kids and our families under the rug, into the closet so to speak.  Organizations like Autism Speaks have raised national awareness of autism, but that awareness, that understanding is still rudimentary.  Until society as a whole understands what it is many of our families go through on a monthly, weekly, daily, even hourly basis, they will continue to judge without compassion.  In this age of social media and digital news/reporting/blogging, it is a lot easier to spread negative, unsubstantiated stories without taking a moment to think about the consequences (or the truth for that matter).

Our community is with you Bari – we will not judge you; we will not bash you.  Mikaela could have been any of our kids; you could have been any of us; and when something happens to one of us, it happens to us all.  We have nothing but love for you.

It could have been her...

It could have been her…

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Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Bill of Rights

***

There’s a reason why the First Amendment of the Constitution comes first.  It is, arguably, the most important Amendment of them all, and 4 words, found in the middle of the amendment (the freedom of speech) have come to represent what our country is all about.  We have the right to speak our minds without fear of reprisal from the government.

It protects the right to speak freely, openly and against authority…

…it also protects your right to be an asshole.

So if you choose to write a blog ripping a family who has just lost their autistic daughter, and with unsubstantiated facts, call into question their parenting skills and suggest they should be investigated for negligence, well, that’s the First Amendment at work.  If you want to be mean-spirited and call outraged readers nasty, I mean really nasty names, well, again, that’s the First Amendment at work.  If you want to accuse others of cyber-bullying when people respond in kind to your speculative, anger inciting, hateful behavior, well, you guessed it, that’s the First Amendment at work.  Yes, the First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole.

But here’s the thing…if you do those things, then you’re an asshole.

I think the Lord said it best when he gave Moses the Two Commandments…

realcommandments

So if you are that asshole blogger, just remember this – the First Amendment protects your right to be an asshole…that doesn’t mean the First Amendment tells you to BE an asshole.

Be cool.

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Different-Types-of-Shoes1

Whether we care to admit it, we have all done it – rolled our eyes as we’ve listened to someone go on about how difficult they have it.  I know I have.  Whether it’s food allergies or diabetes or behavioral issues, I’ve acted as if intently listening, truly concerned about what the speaker or speaker’s child is going through, all the while rolling my eyes internally thinking, really?  you’re complaining about that?  Oh.  My.  GOD!  Will you shut up with your non-problem?

I don’t try not to do that anymore.  I learned quite a while ago that for each of us, our issues are just that – ours.  They are personal, they are deep, and they can cause much distress in our lives.  I once rolled my eyes at food allergies – but you know what?  Food allergies can kill.  I used to roll my eyes at diabetes, self induced in particular – but you know what?  Diabetes can kill.

Unless you are living it (or have lived it) you can’t fully understand it.  Even within the autism community, there are such a wide range of experiences that are as unique from individual to individual as diabetes is to food allergies.  I cannot begin to truly imagine what it would be like to have to wipe feces off the wall on a regular basis.  I haven’t lived it, so I can’t/shouldn’t judge a parent in that situation for some actions that may seem a little “different” to me.

Which brings me to the awful events surrounding Mikaela Lynch.  Earlier this week, 9 year old Mikaela, who was more impacted by autism than my Brooke, slipped out of her parent’s care.  Sadly, a couple of days ago she was found in a creek, deceased.   Regardless of whether one was part of the autism community or not, I would have assumed that everyone would mourn the loss of this young girl and if nothing else, have thoughts of condolences to her parents and family.

But that was not the case.

To my horror, there were some who decided that maybe less than 24 hours after Mikaela’s body had been found, it would be a good idea to ask if  blame should be laid on the parents.  Now, I am not going to name anyone, in part because some bloggers get paid by the number of times people click on to their page and even more with every comment that is left on their posts.  The more clicks and the more comments, the more they get paid (I wonder what kind of writing such writers are inspired to produce?).

It became apparent that one particular person throwing blame at the parents was not a parent.  That person, when called on that fact, rightfully asked if the market on criticizing parents was cornered by those who are parents.  It’s true, non-parents have just as much of a right to criticize a parent’s action as anybody else…

BUT

…but that person, as any of us who would judge someone else, should have at least made an intellectual attempt to walk in their target’s shoes.

As much as we over share our lives via social media (and believe me, I know I am guilty in the first degree) how well do we truly know each other?  Not nearly as well as we think.

Were Mikaela’s parents negligent?  I can’t answer that because I didn’t know Mikaela, her parents or her 8 year old brother, who was apparently keeping an eye on her.  YOUR first reaction may be what? an 8 year was supervising a 9 year old autistic girl?  Horrors!  but then you would fail to recognize that you were looking at the situation through the lens of your life or your personal experience and  knowledge of 8 year olds.  I have known a few 8 year old kids who I would have trusted to keep an eye on things while I went inside to do dishes, sweep the floor or whatever it is that Mikaela’s parents were doing inside their house.   NT (neuro-typical)  siblings are unfairly asked forced to grow and mature quickly.  Unless you really know them, how can you really judge them?

I try not to jump to judgement on a daily basis and I fail at it over and over again on a daily basis (see Amy’s Baking Company meltdown on Kitchen Nightmares – it’s really hard not to judge) but I try to remind myself every time to at least imagine walking in someone else’s shoes for a bit before dropping the hammer.  I hope people will do that before snapping to judgement on Mikaela’s family, or anyone else’s for that matter.

IN ADDITION:

It would appear that there are actual specifics to the timeline that one certain mean-spirited blogger chose to ignore.  The blogger chose to write that the parents didn’t notice Mikaela was missing for 30 minutes and that they were inside the house the entire time.  Sensationalist at best, mean-spirited and money driven (clicks and comments – there’s a reason why this blogger responds to comments with insults; to get a rise out of commenters who will then leave more comments, putting more money in her pocket) more likely, this blogger painted the worst possible picture without any real facts.  Here is the timeline and what the mother was doing according to to the National Autism Association –

While her two children played on a trampoline on Mother’s Day, Mikalea’s mother was in the back of their vacation home putting screens on vent holes because the wasps were building hives in them. During this time, a bee scared Mikaela’s brother, he ran and Mikaela disappeared. Based on video surveillance and time stamp, Mikaela’s parents were two minutes behind her. Thirteen minutes into frantically searching for their daughter, they called the police.

Please stick to reputable news sources when forming an opinion – the examiner.com, though generally entertaining, is not one of them.

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