Think before you share

7 September 2016

Dear Friends,

It's happened again this week. A post about a child with autism has gone viral. A mum posted on Facebook and that post has been reported on all over the world (well I've seen it in America the UK and Holland).

The mother of an autistic child said she was moved to tears when a visiting American Football star joined her son, who was eating alone at school.

When I read the article my heart sank... 

Firstly my heart went out to this mother, how awful that she has had to carry the burden of knowing that her son ate lunch alone, every day! But... where were the caring staff at school to support this child. Lunch times in a large space with lots of people are bound to be difficult for a child with autism. Why wasn't he being given more support?

Secondly, I am happy that Bo now has friends to eat lunch with but it makes me sad that it took one famous adult to let them see the boy for who he really is. To get them to look beyond the autism, the awkwardness, the hand flapping to really see Bo. Another case where autism awareness has not lead to acceptance.

I applaud the mother of Travis Rudolph as she has obviously raised a kind, caring, intelligent young man. He saw a boy eating alone, sat with him and talked with him. This is a heart warming story about a man showing kindness.  Thousands of careers, therapists, doctors, teachers etc working with our children show amazing kindness too but it isn't front page news! It is news because Travis is famous?

Posts like this always make me feel sad and disappointed because they appeal to the journalistic culture of pity or fear. 

I do not want to be pitied and autism is not something to fear, it is about people who deserve to be understood and valued! I will share the success of an amazing athlete Mikey Brannigan who ran the 1500m in less than 4 minutes in qualifying for the Paralympics. Oh and he also happens to have autism. Did you hear about that?

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Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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