Last week was hard, wasn’t it? There was so much ugly and sad and angry and heartbroken. It was a terrible week. Weeks will continue to be terrible for 27 families and those that loved them in Newtown. Like you, I have been trying to send my love to them and wishing them peace.
Yet during all of this, there has been a terrible undercurrent in the autism community. After Newtown, Asperger’s and autism hasn’t just been misunderstood, it has been vilified. People in the community are afraid. Parents are afraid that friends, family, classmates, teachers, and strangers will fear and hate their autistic children, just because they are autistic. Adults are afraid that neighbors, coworkers, friends, and employers will fear and hate them just because they are autistic. Allies are afraid that their efforts to share awareness and acceptance will be overshadowed by this very fear and hate.
There are examples of this already happening that have been circulating through the autism and autistic communities. When people with autism, their parents, and their allies just want to mourn Newtown with the rest of the country, we have been left having to defend ourselves instead.
This is why a few wonderful people, people I am lucky to call friends, have started Autism Shines. Hundreds of people have shared photos of themselves and their children to tell the world what autism really is. It is a page FULL of love. I have seen some of you and your kids there. Every photo I’ve seen has made me so very happy, which is a wonderful thing to be this week.
Jack looked at his photo just now and asked me to put it on the internet. Then he asked me to print it out. We just went and taped the photo over his bed. He is proud of who he is. PROUD. He shines. I want him to grow up in a world where he can stay that way—and where other people see that shine too.
Thank you to the people behind Autism Shines. Thank you for putting that good into the world.