Autism, Tragedy Takes No Holidays

 

By now, you may have learned about the tragic outcome of a nationally-broadcast search. On New Year’s Eve, a five year-old boy with autism went wandering from a family home. At your own comfort, at your own time, read more about the story, here: http://ow.ly/WydPq

I am very sad, and rather inconsolable at the moment. I do not have words to express my sympathy. Instead, I will try to do what I do best: teach.

If I were wealthy, I could throw money at the problem. If I were a politician, I could probably make some radical promises to ensure future safety. Since I am neither of these things, I may have limited options. Fear may guide my decisions. Instead, I will teach.

Tomorrow, I will host a family fire drill in our home. I suppose I could research a lot of different resources and find a spiffy worksheet, but I opt for raw emotion in real time.

FIRE DRILL PREPARATION

  1. Coordinate. With my partner, we will schedule a time for our family fire drill. Together, we will inform our neighbors, as to raise awareness and reduce panic. I’ll also place small traffic cones in our neighborhood, in hopes of reducing speedy passers-by.
  2. Preview the Activity. About an hour before the scheduled event, we will review casual terms of fire safety with the family. These things would include what a smoke detector sounds like, how to escape a hot/smoky room, and where to collectively meet. We will prompt correct answers, and build confidence.
  3. Hold the Family Fire Drill. At the planned time, we set-off the smoke detector, and time our exit.
  4. Review. After the fire drill, we will sit down with hot chocolate (hey, it’s going to be cold tomorrow) and discuss why we did things the way we did. Ask for input from the family. Learn their comfort levels and try to reduce anxiety. Reinforce how proud we are of the kids to manage their own safety. Since these safety drills can inspire fear, we will reduce this anxiety by playing a family game or similar bonding activities. My partner and I must instill faith and trust in our ability to lead during a family crisis, like a real-life fire/smoke emergency.
  5. Read visitor comments to this blog post. I will continually edit this document with accredited sources. Thank you for reading this update.

I’m quite certain this list looks more like a rough draft, and I probably missed some key points. Feel free to suggest other things we could do as a family, but I simply ask you first…

PLEASE COMPLETE YOUR OWN HOME FIRE/SMOKE DRILL BEFORE COMMENTING ON MINE. Then, please advise.

I refuse to allow fear-mongering about autism, despite this tragic story. We must be motivated by hope, and find some measure of control within ourselves. These are the best way to insulate against fear: learning and empowerment.

 

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