What Living In A World Of Terrorism Is Like As A Mother Of An Autistic Child

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What Living In A World Of Terrorism Means As A Mother Of An Autistic Child

Why does this keep happening?

As someone who consumes news stories like some people pop Life Savers candies into their mouth, my first instinct was to question the authenticity of the tweets I read about two explosions following the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

"Bodies everywhere!" One tweeted.

"Guys. It's a false alarm. A balloon popped right next to a speaker and everyone freaked out." Another tweeted.

The latter tweet seemed easier to swallow.

A concert hall filled with young children and teenagers being hit by an explosion? 


I was not prepared to mentally handle that.

And then the Greater Manchester Police tweeted that they were, in fact, responding to a serious incident at the Manchester Arena.

Another tweet popped up, one of a picture with bloody bodies lying on the ground in the front near the box-office.


I was ready to wave my FAKE NEWS flag for the first time ever. 

This couldn't be happening.

It was just about 6:00 p.m. (11:00 p.m. Manchester time) when all this was unfolding and new details were starting to be released.

Missing loved ones.

Cries for help.

Children separated from their parents.

Full stop.

Children separated from their parents.

All terror attacks are senseless and I can't fully understand the psychology behind it, however ones that involve children?

As a writer it pains me to say that I can't actually put into words how it makes me feel.

I'm almost reminded of when my father died as I sat there watching his life slip away with every second; nauseated, dizzy, falling into a state of darkness and despair.

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But since 9/11, I've become a news junkie ... no, that's the wrong term.

My obsessive compulsive disorder mixed with a large helping of severe anxiety disorder has me up all hours of the night, reading and watching the news for every little tid bit of additional information I can get.

I fell asleep with my headphones on, listening to CNN recount the same news over and over, replaying the video of screaming children.

I moved to the couch, where I put CNN on the TV in the background as I moved in and out of a sleepy state.

The need was ferocious; the need to know that these missing people were found and reunited with their loved ones.

When I woke up in the morning, I felt sickened.

22 people were killed, hundreds more injured.

I had an IEP meeting (Individual Education Program) for my autistic son soon after his bus came to pick him up.

I was greeted with happy teachers and therapists who told me that my son was a "ray of sunshine" and that he has improved so much.

But he's still unable to say "Mom, or "Dad."

He is still unable to form a sentence explaining his needs.

While I listened and took notes from the meeting, in the back of my head, all I could think was, "What if?"

Summer is soon approaching here in the Northeast which means some family time is now in the planning stages.

I wanted to take our son to a theme park geared toward kids like Sesame Place or Hershey Park.

Never in a million years would I have thought that would be a target for a terrorist, but now?

Who knows anymore?

As the day went on, I felt sicker and sicker; all the lovely physical side effects of having severe anxiety.

What would happen if we took our son to what should be a happy place? And there was an attack? And we got lost?

He wouldn't be able to ask for his parents.

He wouldn't be able to describe us to other people so that they can help him find us.

RELATED: What It's REALLY Like To Raise A Child With Autism

My father always used to tell me a story from his childhood:

"When I was in elementary school, we used to have nuke drills. We'd all have to crawl under our desks and hide. All I could think was, 'What the hell is a desk going to do to save us from a nuke?'"

My dad was partly traumatized by those drills.

Do we now have to make my son carry around his neck a tag with contact information like a puppy?

Is this what the world has come to?

I don't show fear in front of my son because he's very sensitive to other's emotions.

But I'm terrified for the world.

I'm terrified for my son.

If we let fear set in, we let them win. That's what they say, right?

But what happens if the fear isn't for yourself, but for someone who can't actually feel fear?

I know that sounds confusing ... let me explain.

My son is 6-years-old. I don't let him watch the news and I don't speak about bombs going off in front of him.

I'm not sure his comprehension will ever get to the point where he fully understands the world, as it is now, around him.

I'm not sure I want him to.

My fear, the pit I have at the very bottom of my stomach that feels like a brick that won't move, is for him.

I wanted to bring my child into a world filled with love, light, and laughter.

He gets that at home and in school.

I'm scared for when it's his time to leave the world I built for him and venture out into the real one. 

The one with suicide bombers, mass shooters, and people who believe killing others is the only way to their G-d.

I'm just ... scared.