Although there is generally no shortage of differing opinions between autism parents, or different approaches to intervention, one thing we all have in common is our love for our children. We also share the universal drive for them to be accepted in school and the community, to be understood, to be valued.
After the horrific events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary, news reports and articles were seen everywhere, and a great many, in their haste to report something, indicated that the shooter was autistic, specifically, a person with Asperger’s. That reporting set off a nightmarish chain of events in which ill-informed people, believing that autism could be attributed to planned violence, made hateful comments and put up Facebook pages calling for extermination of autistics.
Our community has worked so hard for so long to educate others about autism, and to acquire acceptance and inclusion.
It felt like more than defeat. It was alarming. Frightening. We cried, and held our children closer, and we feared the backlash.
But then we got back to work. We made signs to share across Facebook. I made this one:
Others started sharing pictures of their loved ones, with meaningful descriptions. Someone had an idea to put all the pictures in one place. Tim Tucker, from Both Hands and a Flashlight, had a FB page that was empty, waiting to be used. He offered up the page, as well as worked to create a website, and Autism Shines was born.
We couldn’t believe how quickly it grew. Although it was created just a couple of days before Christmas, the FB page acquired 2,000 fans in less than 48 hours, and amassed a few hundred photos. The website is now operational, and is gaining in popularity as well.
Such a simple concept. A place to say, “this is my amazing, beautiful child,” as well as a place for adult autistics to say, “look at me, I’m just like YOU!”
It began as a tiny candle flame and is growing into the brightest light of hope and truth on the web. It’s a place to say “we will not allow the darkness of the Sandy Hook tragedy to cast a shadow on our light.”
I hope you will visit and share your light too. I shared mine.
Please visit the Autism Shines Facebook page here.
And the Autism Shines web page is here.
And a special thank you to the team of individuals who have worked on this project:
- Tim Tucker – blogger at Both Hands and a Flashlight and author of I Am An Autism Parent
- Jessica Watson – blogger at Four Plus an Angel
- Lexi Magnusson – blogger at Mostly True Stuff
- Flannery Sullivan – blogger at Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles
- Jill Smo – blogger at Yeah. Good Times.
- Danielle A. – blogger at ProfMomEsq