A week ago I wrote Raw, about my reaction to the news that someone I considered a friend had attempted to kill her child and herself.
We're still trying to grapple with this, the autism community, and our roles in supporting autistic individuals and their families. The divide feels as if it's never been bigger, but we don't really know that to be true--we can't poll everyone, so we are reduced to these conclusions based on our friends list and the blogs we read.
Many parents who "knew" Kelli are trying to figure out what happened and how we can keep this awful crime from happening again.
We are united, I think, in the uniform goal that no autistic individual should be harmed, not by his or her parents, not by his or her family members, not by school employees, not by anyone.
So we can lobby for laws, we can lobby for better support, we can lobby for education of parents and caregivers and responsible, trained respite care. We can lobby for insurance coverage of treatment and then require that treatment involve the entire family in as intense a form as treatment was for Issy.
We can lobby to make sure there is oversight for treatment centers that staff is well-trained and compassionate and that the autonomy and agency of the individual in treatment is respected.
And unless those hands are throwing things, we can butt the hell out of whether an autistic individual's hands are quiet. We can quit using that terminology. We can quit demanding that people conform to a narrow standard.
All of us should be respectful of others. All of us should show restraint when it comes to being physically or emotionally aggressive to others. We should do a lot of things that we were supposed to learn in kindergarten.
But we don't.
The reality is we can't control others' behavior or thoughts. We can't save anyone else but ourselves. Recognizing our limits, that we can only be accountable for what we think and what we do, is important.
We can reach out all we want online, but if we don't also reach out in our own community, our ability to be of true help is going to be impaired. Listening, caring and praying only go so far. If we have a family in need in our own community and we know it and yet fail to offer actual help, like a break for the parents, time spent playing with the child, or maybe even a meal brought over, we're nothing more than hot air.
We should be more than that.