was scrolling down my Facebook page and saw a historic picture of two young boys who have autism. They were chained next to what appears to be radiator heaters, and the caption said it was in a mental institution.
And as soon as I saw it, I quickly closed my Facebook.
And that uneasy feeling has been lingering all day. The impact of the sadness is weighing me down so much.
Looking back at the progress that our society has done is amazing. Awareness has increased so much that more people understand and accepting autism. There are more services and we are making sure these kids become part of our daily lives, versus storing them in some closet somewhere.
But I cannot seem to move forward from the despair that I feel for those kids. What were they feeling? What were they thinking? What about their parents? Was it such a common practice that they felt it was okay to do this? Did they feel this was their only option?
My son doesn’t speak. He is seven years old and still is not potty trained. Because of his severity, I can almost guarantee that if he was born back then, he’d probably be one of those kids chained to the radiator. They would probably have assumed since he didn’t speak, he didn’t understand much and would probably be better off chained.
And yesterday he was swinging away on his sensory swing. He was being silly by turning on the faucets of the kitchen and bathroom. (One of his latest fixations – it looks like he is trying to figure out where the water is coming from.) He has his own little personality, his goofy sense of humor, and this immense empathy towards others if he know someone is sad.
I was watching a movie Saturday night. My daughter was working, and my husband was grading homework in the kitchen table. My son was playing with his doggies and swinging on his swing. The movie had a part where a baby is born. I said something to the effect of, “What a beautiful baby!” but it sounded like I was sad. My monkey ran towards me to kiss me and make sure I was okay.
And those children from the history picture never had the chance. The chance to connect, to express, to be loved, or to love back. And although we have a long way to go in making a better world for our children, I know we have come very far.
I know my son receives services from school and from his private therapies because there were parents that fought for these services in the past. The special education department was established because of brave people that felt their children deserved more. I am so grateful for their fight. And I promise I will keep fighting too, by spreading awareness and acceptance everywhere I can.
I strongly believe that it is our job to fight for the next generation, in hopes of making strides for them too.