Blogger Laura Rossi Totten of My So-Called Sensory Life wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post about the death of Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old boy from Queens who wandered from his school in Long Island in October of last year.
In the the post, Laura discusses the power of the special needs community coming together to support Avonte's family, and the launch of a partnership with Ramapo for Children to develop a "Keep All Our Children Safe" training, manual and accompanying digital media to be offered at no cost to at no cost to parents, families, teachers, neighbors, educators, advocates and first responders.
When the recent news about the tragic death of Avonte Oquendo that so many had been dreading, the ongoing quiet, powerful social media movement in his support was elevated to another level by the words of a gifted young writer named Danson who is also autistic and nonverbal and a published poet in a letter he wrote to Avonte's mother:
Dear Ms. Fontaine (Avonte's Mom), I behave in escaping ways also. The feeling of freedom can be found. This does not mean his blessing has ended. I am an autistic teenager. I do not talk with my mouth but I think. Avonte is shining. Peace, Danson Wambua
Danson's words took my breathe away.* So did the fact that so many special needs parents changed their profile pictures to Avonte's sweet and innocent face. Posts about his disappearance have dominated my personal Facebook feed since his disappearance, but when the nightmarish news about how/when/where they discovered his body broke, the posts and tweets hit parents everywhere hard -- especially the autism community -- and social media reflected our communal mourning and grief.
Read Laura's full blog post here.