I have a recording of the speech here:
We had news coverage, which can be seen here:
And finally, here's the text of the speech...
I understand now.
Many adults with autism want to be called “Autistic.” That’s how they self-identify. For them, they are Autistic individuals. Others feel it’s important to use “person-first language,” i.e. “a person with autism.”
The debate has been going back and forth in the ASD community. I could never understand why the convictions on both sides were so strong.
Now I understand.
London was Autistic. It was pronounced, and his symptoms were unmistakable. But you got past that. You gave him grace. You didn’t focus on his limitations. He was a happy, loving boy. Besides being beautiful to behold—blue eyes and blonde hair—he was beautiful on the inside.
He laughed and jumped and played. He loved other children, even if he didn’t know how to play with them.
He didn’t like what he didn’t like, but what he did like, he took to with great gusto. When he was hungry and eating food that he liked, he cooed. The air was full of “mmmm”s and “yumm”s. He couldn’t talk, but he was always verbalizing. His almost-words were nicknamed his “Ewok Language.”
He adored physical contact with those he loved. He liked to be held and tossed, and he always slept pressed up against me at night.
The story of his life is LOVE personified. London personified love.
You and I can honor his memory best by loving each other. Love your children. Love your parents. Love your friends. Love those you meet.
Love with great gusto.
I’m going to cut through all that naming debate. Just call an individual by his or her name. London was London.
Don’t just take it from me. His friends were typical children. When they played, sometimes the other children would wonder why he was different. His friend, Sienna, was the same age as he. She said, “This is my friend London. He can’t speak. He’s not a baby or anything, he just can’t speak.” His friend, John, said, “This is my friend London. Sometimes he just needs a little space.” The children around him didn’t label him. They didn’t know how. He was just London.
People with disabilities are just people. I have a disability. Without warning, a brain mass sent me to the hospital. I still have trouble walking and talking, but I’m trying as best I can. I deserve a chance to try. London deserved a chance to try. That chance was taken from him.
His passing has shocked the state and the world. It shocked me. I’m still in shock.
There’s a list of people killed by their caregivers. It is tragic that there is a list. It’s tragic that there is even one person on the list. Every person deserves a chance to live.
When old friends greet me, they often have difficulty finding words to say. That is understandable. This act defies explanation. There are no words to explain that which does not make sense.
Being a parent is hard. That is no excuse for murder.
London was loving and trusting. That trust was betrayed.
If you are a the caregiver of someone and the idea of hurting them ever crosses your mind, then there is a better way. London had two sets of grandparents that would have loved to raise him. I would have loved to raise him. I was very much looking forward to knowing London as an adult.
There is no excuse for taking a life.