Will A Child With Autism Know To “Look For The Helpers”

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?” My 7-year-old son Norrin asked, putting his finger to the tear falling down my cheek.

We were sitting on the sofa last night and I was watching the news. Crying as an 8-year-old girl was talking about her classmate Martin Richard – the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Before I could answer, Norrin pointed to the television and said, “It’s a sad movie.”

I pulled Norrin closer to give him a hug and kiss. “Yes, baby. It’s a sad movie.”

These are the moments I am grateful for autism. Norrin is blissfully unaware of the horrific act of violence committed on April 15. The world – his world, anyway – is still a peaceful place. Norrin’s innocence is preserved another day.

It was only a few weeks ago, we were standing in a crowd of runners, waiting for Norrin to run his first race. I was nervous then – thinking of what would happen if Norrin slipped out of my reach.

And when I see that Mister Rogers meme “Look for the helpers” shared and liked all over my Facebook feed, I can’t help but think of Norrin and other kids like him.

We live in New York City. My husband is training for the New York Marathon. I cannot keep Norrin sheltered. We are constantly in crowds, taking public transportation, living our day-to-day lives. We do not and will not live in fear.

But what would happen to Norrin if he was caught in the middle of such violence? Norrin may not understand what’s going on around him. Norrin has no sense of danger. He may not be able to tell someone his name, to say that he’s lost and needs help.

As a mother, my heart aches for the Richard family, and for the men and women of Boston. But I am in awe of the humanity and compassion that reveals itself during such a tragedy. I am inspired by their resilience to keep running.

Norrin may not know to look for the helpers in a moment of panic. But I have to have hope and have faith that the helpers will look for Norrin.

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  1. by Miz Kp

    On April 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I share your hope that even though our children may not be able to look for helpers that there will be kind people around to look out for them. Angel has no idea what happened in Boston. I am not even sure what I would say to him if he did know and asked. Good luck to your husband in the upcoming marathon. I have to add that I hate when people say autistic children have no empathy. Norrin showed great empathy by noticing you cry and saying what was on tv is a sad movie.

  2. by Yvonne Condes

    On April 18, 2013 at 1:22 am

    It’s so sad and horrible. it makes me so mad that nowhere feels safe anymore. I don’t know how much of it my boys are taking in. I want them to be aware, but not scared. It’s a fine line.

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