My husband and I have been discussing what would we do if we were out and about with the monkey and there would be a catastrophic event, a mass shooting, a fire, or a natural disaster. These situations are very difficult for anyone, but I feel the gravity of the situation increases drastically for special needs families.
We were watching a video of yesterday’s mass shooting in Walmart and how shoppers from the mall were asked to evacuate with their hands up. How would we be able to do this with our son? First of all, he wouldn’t understand the gravity of the situation. He probably wouldn’t want to leave right away. He needs time to process that we are transitioning. We have to give him cues and warnings and even use timers. How would he process that he has to run in line while the swat team is looking around for any threats? He wouldn’t run in a line. He’d probably throw himself on the floor and scream if we abruptly stopped what we were doing and started running. He would question why we were leaving so soon.
We heard one of the moms scream at her daughter to run faster while holding their hands up. I cannot imagine the despair she was going thru. And as my heart is breaking for her, I look at my husband and ask him, “What would we have done? How would we be able to run for safety with our monkey?”
My husband said, “I’d carry him on my shoulders and scream at the officers my son has autism! My son has autism! He doesn’t understand what is happening! I’d keep screaming until we would be outside.”
And then I think if I was there by myself, or with my daughter, we wouldn’t have been able to carry him. He has become so strong that when my husband is not with us, we simply can’t get him to budge. When he has a meltdown and throws himself on the floor, most of the time we are unable to restrain him from hurting himself or others, much less run to safety.
It is heartbreaking to be talking about what we would do in the event of a mass shooting. And yet this is part of our daily lives. My husband had a serious talk with my daughter and me of what he would do in the event a mass shooting would take place in the school he teaches at. He told us that his priority would be to take care of his students, which would mean putting his life in danger to protect his kids. And I agree with him. His job at that moment is to protect his students. Just as I hope my son’s teacher would project my son.
Mass shootings are also part of my son’s life. His teacher has to prepare the class during practice drills. He’s exposed to this even if I would want to shield him.
My heart is broken at this senseless act. And this inner fear is drastically increased when autism is involved.
I hurt for the victims. I hurt for their families. My heart aches at the void that they have to deal with.
And I feel that the only thing I can do is to love my family. Love those that we have. Hug my kids a little tighter tonight. Because we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.