My friend who is stationed in Japan posted today that even though there seems to be a decrease in activity, there is this feeling as if it is the quiet before the storm. She talked about how her heart aches, how she just wants her old life back. It was then that it hit me… even though I myself have never been through an earthquake, I truly understand what she is going through. I understand her pain, her fear and her desire for everything to be normal. I understand this because in many ways an Earthquake and Autism are the same thing. Perhaps I better explain what I mean.
Simply put, earthquakes are the Earth’s natural means of releasing stress. One minute everything is fine, and the next plates are rattling, chairs are rocking and vases are falling from the living room shelf. Even though experts know why earthquakes happen, there is no reliable method of accurately predicting where it will happen or the magnitude of the quake. And when it does happen, they say the best thing to do is to Drop, Cover and Hold on! Finally, after an earthquake, aftershocks can sometimes be felt for days, even months.
Any parent of an autistic child will tell you that I just described a meltdown.
I certainly in no means wish to downplay the devastating crisis in Japan. The deaths, the destruction and the struggle theses people are facing as they try to control a possible nuclear disaster… it is all just so unreal and incredibly sad. What I am saying is, I understand how your life has suddenly changed, how your routines have been disrupted and how you now have found yourselves in uncharted waters. I understand because this is my every day life and the life of millions of people who are affected by autism.
The only difference is that the outside world is stepping up. They are coming to your aid. They see your pain and they are doing what they can to make it go away. That is not happening for my child or the millions like him. Every 20 minutes a new case of autism is diagnosed and believe me there is no measure on a Richter scale that can possibly reflect how much your world is shaken when you hear it.
I pray my friend is wrong and that this is NOT the quiet before the storm for her and the rest of Japan. Not knowing what is going to happen next is no way to live ones life. I know this because this is how it is for Jay and the others. I also pray that the empathy and compassion that this horrific event as brought out in people will some how spill over to the autistic community. That is one tremor I would not mind happening.