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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Autism and the Boston Bombing

The thoughts and prayers of all of us at Autism Speaks go out to the people of Boston, Massachusetts in the wake of the tragedy that occurred yesterday, especially the victims and their families. The devastation has been felt by people across the country and the world as we struggle to understand and deal with this horrible event. It is often particularly difficult for children with autism to fully understand such tragic situations and the feelings of grief and loss associated with them. Helping Children Deal with Tragic Events in the News, a resource from Mr. Rogers at PBS, is a great tool to help your children better comprehend and cope with yesterday's tragedy.
In addition, the Autism Speaks Resource Library contains a list of Bereavement and Grief Resources that you can find here.
In Seattle, KING-TV reports:
The Boston Marathon bombings present unique challenges no one wants to face when it comes to confronting fear and tragedy. In particular, children and people with disabilities have a hard time comprehending, advocates say.
“I think people make assumptions about I.Q. being relative to feeling,” explained Sylvia Fuerstenberg with ARC of Seattle. “I think that’s changing.”
Fuerstenberg said in the past, people with developmental disabilities would be sheltered from difficult news or events.
“We shouldn’t avoid the topic,” she continued, “but sometimes, we should let the person with the disability lead the understanding.”
That conversation is on the mind of Sammamish’s Janet Howe. Howe ran in the Boston Marathon and finished twenty minutes before the bombs exploded. She spoke with KING 5 from Philadelphia, as she prepared to fly home and explain to her autistic son what happened.
“There might be a tendency to assume they’re not aware of what’s happened,” Howe said. “There is a need to shelter, but there’s also a need to be honest.
In Amarillo, KFDA-TV reports:
Rose Burch was relieved to see her son's facebook status after watching the horror at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on TV.
Tim Burch, 42, who has lived in Baltimore for the past 20 years but grew up in Amarillo, never got to cross the finish line. He wasn't able to call home to Amarillo for about an hour after the explosions.
"He didn't tell me where he was, but he said I just wanted to let you know I'm okay," Burch said.
Tim was running to raise money for a little boy with Autism. Burch said that he would have been carrying the child across the finish line if he had ever got there, and she was terrified for the both of them.
"He's my baby," Burch said. "I was typing him a message to say 'keep going Tim, you're doing great' when I heard what happened. He likes for us to call him when he races, he can hear it in his ear and it helps him run."