For most people, holiday celebrations are a time of laughter and joy. For my family, which includes three children on the Autism Spectrum, it is nothing short of a horror movie or a torture chamber and no, I am not using hyperbole.
Autism is a neurological condition that affects how a person communicates and relates to others and as most of you know, it is also a lifelong developmental disability that affects hundreds of people in our country. It is very common for persons with autism to also have co-morbid conditions such as sensory-related issues.
For a lot of autistic children particularly, the sound of any sort of fireworks is their worst nightmare because the way they hear noise, compared to us neuro-typical people, is hundred times amplified so basically they feel like they are in the middle of a war zone and they are about to die. Can you imagine how a child with autism feels every time you choose to “Have fun” by throwing a scratch bomb?
I spent hundreds of US dollars in hi-tech, sophisticated headphones designed to deal with these sorts of noises to no avail because there is the element of unpredictability that cause them a huge amount of anxiety and distress. Who can blame them?!?
Every time my middle son hears one, he screams at the top of his lungs and cries inconsolably for HOURS and let tell you, trying to console an autistic child for HOURS who is having a meltdown is not a walk in the park.
My youngest, covers his ears, runs to me and starts sweating profusely and starts breathing heavy, crying, screaming and I can see his little heart beating at a very fast pace. My oldest, becomes enraged when he sees how it affects his siblings and is literally up all night without any sleep and my whole house, that already experiences a daily dose of chaos and stress due to raising three children under the spectrum, has to now deal with an element that we have no power or control over and it becomes completely out of control.
Can you imagine how all of this is affecting my family? Can you imagine going through this torture every-single-time you decide to throw a firework? Can you imagine the fear, pain and distress that is causing to hundreds of families with children on the Autism Spectrum in Trinidad?
Is there anyone out there with a little compassion left? Is there anyone out there that after reading this will decide to STOP using fireworks? Are there any serious politicians reading this who can take this issue seriously and bring it to the attention to lawmakers that can make the use of fireworks by ordinary people illegal in this country? Is there anyone out there willing to make a change and make life a little easier for those children with disabilities like mine? They want to live too, just like you and I.
Please, stop using fireworks. Do you want me to beg? I’ll beg for my children’s sake: PLEASE, I beg you, stop using fireworks. Your short moment of laughter and entertainment becomes a torturous, agonizing, anguishing and distressing time of torment for my children. Have a heart, that’s all I’m asking.