As we take in the images of the tsunami washing over the coast of Japan, it seems abstract. This could not possibly be the same place that Global TravelingMom visited just a few months ago. The news anchor speaks about the thousands of people who live in the village that has been swept away in mere seconds. Surely, you think, everyone got out in time and reached safety. To imagine anything else is horrifying.
The sad truth, is that many did not get out in time. As the mother of a child with special needs, I tend to focus on “my people” – other families with children with special needs. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what language you speak, I carry “my people” in my heart. I think about having to evacuate my home with my 4 year old Autistic son and my 2 year old daughter. Would I be able to do it in time? And if our home was destroyed, and we were living in a makeshift shelter, how would I manage with a child with special needs? I try not to let my mind wander any further down the path of what ifs. The reality is that my what ifs are thousands of people’s here and nows.
Children and parents and grandparents have perished and thousands have nowhere to live. A child with Autism would be stressed beyond belief by a natural disaster of this magnitude. Everything that he relates to that makes him feel safe and secure has vanished. Relatives have seemingly disappeared into thin air. The world he knew no longer exists. I imagine being a mother in this situation, trying to hold it together for my child, doing my best to keep him safe. I cannot fathom the stress these families must be feeling.
I feel powerless to help. We can all donate money to the Red Cross, and send out prayers. You can even donate specifically to organizations that seek to help children with special needs. I challenge you to reach out and do what you can. Until I can visit Japan personally, I will be traveling there in my heart every day.
Photo courtesy of bigfoto.com