by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
Last week we announced the launch of our new Safety Teaching Stories, written especially for children on the autism spectrum. We collaborated with Autism Speaks to script five books that address common problems that put these children at an increased risk for harm. The safety statistics for children on the autism spectrum are nothing short of tragic. They have a mortality rate double that of the general population. They are four times more likely to wander away from their environment without adult supervision, which puts them at greater risk for accidental drowning and other life-threatening accidents. They are more likely to be bullied, physically assaulted, and socially isolated by peers. Additionally, children on the spectrum are at a higher risk for physical and sexual abuse, including being inappropriately restrained as punishment.
As a company that is dedicated to increasing the happiness and well-being of children, these facts weigh heavy on our hearts. We are proud to partner with Autism Speaks and create stories that are part of the solution.
But our stories are never complete without the power of yours. Today we are featuring an excerpt from an essay written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez. She is the mother of an autistic son, an exceptional storyteller and an advocate for families impacted by autism. She provides knowledge, resources, community and connection through her blog atypicalfamilia.com. We are thrilled she allowed us to share her story.
Autism Awareness Month: Remembering the Autistic Children Who Lost Their Lives After Wandering (originally posted on April 1, 2014).
It's April 1st - the first day of Autism Awareness Month. For those without autism in their lives - this month may mean 30 days of blue and/or puzzle pieces. For others it will mean something more.
My son, Norrin, has autism. It's autism awareness every day of the year in our home. And one of the things that I am most aware of is: wandering. It's on the forefront of my mind every time we walk out the door and every moment Norrin's not with me. It's the thing that keeps me up at night and the reason why I am hesitant to let go of his hand when out in public. It's the reason why I am cautious about child care and one of the reasons why I pulled him out of public school.
Last October, 14-year old Avonte Oquendo (autistic and non-verbal) walked out of his Long Island City (Queens, NYC) public school. The story hit me hard. It hit the city of New York hard. There were subway announcements for months and missing posters with Avonte's face everywhere. There were search parties and news stories. As a city, as parents - we held on to hope.
Continue reading the essay on Lisa's blog: http://ow.ly/M2zkB.
Autism Awareness: Stories That Keep Our Kids Safe was originally published on May 1, 2015. Modifications to style, arrangement, and linked sources were made on January 8, 2016.