My first blog sadly is about the death of Avonte Oquendo, a child with autism who went missing in October and tragically died because of the failure of the school system to keep him safe. He was laid to rest this weekend. My heart cries a deep sorrow. He did not deserve to die. His parents did not deserve to bury their child. And every autism parent now does not deserve to live in fear. . . .fear of a reoccurring act that caused this precious child to lose his life. I look at Avonte and see my son. . .and I hurt inside.
But it would be remiss of me to have a closed mouth and not fight even harder for all of the Avontes in the world, like my son. Acceptance is something we strive hard to get for our children but respect and responsibility needs to be at the forefront also. My hope now is that all school systems everywhere will reevaluate their security measures and make changes where needed. I hope all educational personnel are trained properly and held accountable for the well-being of each child. I hope awareness plus action sparks this nation to make necessary laws regarding the protection of all children with autism as well as for every special needs child. And I hope and pray that the above professionals and the community will not rest in the wake of this tragedy and be forced to reassure the parents that they have left their child in capable hands. I think we can all agree that this is not too much to ask.
To Avonte, rest sweet child. Your memory will not be lost. You have started a conversation that should have begun and been in place way beyond your years but we hear you. It took you leaving us too early, but we do hear your voice loud and clear. So, now we’ll work while you sleep.
Thanks for listening,