“There is no love like a mother’s love,” I said through tears at my mother’s funeral. Having a wonderful mother, being a mother and knowing many mothers, I know how true this is. Kudos to all mamas, and those in mothering roles!
I also have great admiration and respect for mothers of special needs children, who are devoted to making sure that their children have the best possible life. You deserve thanks and appreciation every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.
Some mothers take on issues that affect not only their own children, but the larger community. I cannot possibly name the thousands of women (mothers, grandmothers and caregivers) who deserve acknowledgment for their activism and contributions to the welfare of children and families, but consider this message as a Valentine Thank You to each of you.
I would like to recognize one mother who has had to endure the tragic loss of a dear son. Patti Saylor’s son Robert Ethan Saylor died suddenly in January, 2013 at the age of 26. Ethan, a man with Down Syndrome, died on the lobby floor of a Maryland movie theater after an altercation with mall security/off-duty deputies.
His alleged offense? Not paying to see a movie a second time. Things escalated with the worst possible ending. Ethan’s larynx was crushed and his death was ruled a homicide.
A mother’s love lasts longer than her child’s life. It lasts as long as her own heart is beating. Patti has kept her love for Ethan alive by working to prevent another senseless tragedy. She is part of a group working to increase awareness between law enforcement and those with special needs, including training for law enforcement and training for those with disabilities.
Bringing law enforcement and the special needs community together is near and dear to my heart, so I was particularly inspired by Patti’s recent testimony to Congress:
“When you know someone with a disability and have a relationship with that person, it changes your whole being and perspective. At the local level, we have a real opportunity to build relationships with our local law enforcement… It doesn’t take an act of Congress, federal or state mandate, or even money to make you realize that relationships are everything.”
We must assume that everyone can learn to be safe, especially when we resolve to teach them! We take BE SAFE The Movie on the road to do Interactive Screenings, bringing local police and young adults with disabilities together. They get to know one another. They learn to interact and communicate. We work on specific safety skills, like “Do what the police tell you to do,” and “Follow the law to be safe.” Most of all we improve mutual understanding and help create relationships, which is invaluable.
Patti Saylor read a blog about a recent BE SAFE Interactive Screening. She commented that BE SAFE came too late for Ethan. This brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me that everything can be lost in one brief, unsafe moment.
Ethan’s story gives us the resolve to continue making a difference with BE SAFE The Movie, creating relationships, improving outcomes and preventing another mother’s heartbreak.
Please, don’t leave safety to chance! Whatever tools you want to use, do something about your child’s safety. Make sure that your child, teen or adult with special needs knows how to be safe when interacting with the police.