The news in South Florida is awash with the story of a 9 year-old boy named Alejandro who was on the ASD spectrum and his mother being charged with his murder. While we don’t know the whole story behind why this mother did what she did, Facebook has been full of posts by local news stations about this and some of the comments I have been reading have made me shake my head in disbelief.
One woman commented that she has taken care of children on the ASD spectrum , both verbal and non-verbal. She goes on to talk about someone she knows who has a child with autism and how this woman has a very long day and how draining it must be. Yes, taking care of or working with a child who has special needs can be draining, but to use that as an excuse for mistreating a child is abhorrent.
I work at an elementary school, and for the past two years I have been one of two assistants in a PreK class . Our students are between the ages of 3-5 and are on the ASD spectrum. Yes it can be tiring, yes, it can be draining, but the rewards are so well worth it. Hearing a previously non-verbal, or semi-verbal child learning to say even one word and finding their voice is an experience like no other. Seeing their eyes light up and the smiles on their faces when they have accomplished something they never thought they could do brings an indescribable feeling to our hearts.
I am also the aunt of an 18 year old nephew who has autism. I have known my nephew, Aaron since the summer he turned six. I have watched him go from having very few words to being able to express himself enough to make his wants and needs known. He may never be fully verbal, and that’s okay. He has grown in so many ways and has accomplished more than we ever expected. Aaron is a sweet, loving young man and we love him just the way he is.
All children, whether or not they have special needs deserve every ounce of love and respect we can give them . No child deserves to be mistreated for any reason. No child deserves the fate that Alejandro was handed.