Your Support Is Still Needed!
Yesterday was Halloween Day. Halloween and Christmas have always been a tie for Drew’s favorite holiday. Yesterday we visited our son in prison but there was no celebration. He is disheartened and has lost hope. He is afraid to believe anything good will happen. He’s afraid to believe he will be home before Christmas. He wants to be hopeful but his hope is limited by fear and increasing anxiety. Understandable given the negative chain of events he has experienced.
Drew has always loved autumn, the cooler air, the changing color of the leaves and pumpkins. He loves walking outdoors and the comforting smells of home cooking. In prison his outdoor walks are brief, from the building he is housed in to the visitation room to see us. Instead of colorful trees he sees barbed wire fencing. He sees gray and white concrete. The smells of urine and body odor are disgusting.
Every day in prison is long, loud, uncertain and emotionally agonizing. He lives in a cage. Still, he searches for something good and ways to cope. Drew saved an orange from his lunch tray and drew a jack-o-lantern face on it. He said it’s his Halloween decoration.
In prison Drew shares kindness with others. He has helped inmates who can’t read by reading their letters to them. Some need assistance filling out commissary sheets. He created worksheets for one inmate to help better his vocabulary. This guy told Drew he reminds him of Data, a Star Trek character with a vast amount of knowledge. We aren’t surprised when correctional officers and staff tell us that Drew is a very nice young man, and never causes any trouble. But it’s still nice to hear that they too see him for who he really is.
Many parents of adult children on the spectrum have told us that, given the choice, they would gladly do the prison time for their child. They understand. They know that navigating a typical day on the outside is challenging enough. They boil with anger when they hear that the judge misinterpreted Drew’s therapist describing the learned ability to ‘fake well’ to fit in as an indicator of deceit.
Most Wednesdays we are allowed to visit Drew. We remind him that there is hope for a better tomorrow. Mostly he has difficulty understanding why our governor, who he knows is also a pediatric neurologist, has not stepped in to stop this injustice and send him home. Governor Northam and his staff have had Drew’s petition for about a year now. We have always welcomed a full and thorough investigation; so does Dr. Staci Carr, the President of the Autism Society Central Virginia. She has visited Drew more than once and sees the urgent need for him to return home, into the care of his parents and helping professionals.
Drew tells us how long the days are and how isolated he feels from society. He thirsts for normal. If you would like to write him a short note I know it would mean a lot to him. Don’t worry about saying the perfect things. Don’t worry about saying the wrong things. Just tell him a little about what’s going on in your life, the weather where you live, what you’re looking forward to. Tell him about your job, your pets. Anything. He will enjoy and appreciate hearing from those of you who have signed and supported him through this painful chapter of his life. You can email your note to him through me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will print your letters and mail them to him.
Thank you all for keeping up with our petition. Thank you for your prayers. And, if you choose to write to Drew thank you in advance.
Also, since we are very close to 6,000 signatures please share this post. At 7500 signatures the governor will receive an update.
Judy and John Harrison