Never Will Forget You – Tribute to Avonte Oquendo

Avonte Never Forget

Recently I had the immense privilege and honor to listen to the beautiful and heartbreaking song written in memory of Avonte Oquendo, by his uncle, Rocopera.  Even over the telephone, it was apparent that the love he has for this child is immeasurable. The pain of this loss will never be healed.

“This song comes from a broken heart”

His heart IS broken – all of our hearts are broken. What happened to this beautiful child should never have happened. What happened is every parents’ nightmare. Those of us that have children with special needs know this fear all too well. We know that simple things like just putting your child on a school bus and sending him off to school can be terrifying. They are not with us, we are not in control, we are not there to protect and take care of them. As the mother of an adult child with autism, I know this fear. I live this fear. – We all live this fear.

Avonte’s disappearance drove that fear home for all of us. Avonte’s story is not something that happened to one boy or one family in New York – it happened to all of us in the Autism Community. A  tragedy like this can happen anywhere – and it does happen everywhere.

“Never Will Forget You – A Tribute to Avonte Oquendo” was written not only as a memorial to the nephew he loved so deeply, but as a vehicle to raise awareness about Autism in general. Rocopera has spent the better part of his adult life advocating for/with the Autism community. His own son is on the Autism Spectrum.

In an effort to work through his pain, Rocopera has been spending much of his time writing and producing “Never Forget You”. He is also tirelessly working on and producing a documentary chronicling the events of that horrific 3 1/2 months. A memorial at the site is in the planning stages, pending the approval of Mayor De Blasio.  Rockopera needs to raise awareness, he needs to know that Avonte will never be forgotten.

In an earlier post, I wrote:

As it has been said, Avonte, brought an entire city together. His disappearance brought an often, very separated Autism community together. It cast a spotlight on the problem of wandering/elopement of Autistic children and adults.  He has raised awareness to the issues that many families face in trying to keep their children safe. Our children should be safe, at all costs…………. Avonte should have been safe in school.

– Avonte Oquendo should be memorialized, in any and every way possible.

“Never Will Forget You – A Tribute to Avonte Oquendo” will be released on iTunes 5 days before the October 4th anniversary of  his disappearance, with all of the proceeds to be donated to credible Autism charities.

We will be posting more information about all of these projects in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, please help us spread the word about the release of this beautifully written and performed, tribute to Avonte.

I promise you that once you hear “Never Will Forget You”, you will never forget this haunting and so very moving song……………

…………………… we will never forget Avonte.

9/12/14 –

Many Thanks to:

One Loco Mommy

Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake

Autism and Christianity

Soaring with Autism

For re-blogging and re-posting –

Related Posts:

Guest Post: Raising Awareness in the Face of Tragedy – #NeverWillForgetYou – By Gizelle Tolbert

Guest Post: Spreading Awareness; Spreading the Word; #NeverWillForgetYou – by Gizelle Tolbert

Re-Posting Tribute to Avonte Oquendo, by Vickie

The CALL TO ACTION – A Memorial for Avonte

ATTENTION NYC PARENTS : Avonte’s Law – Rally JUNE 12, 2014!

So… we’ve had quite the week in the news, haven’t we?




Study: ‘Significant’ statistical link between mass murder and autism, brain injury” ~ Washington Post – May 21, 2014
Yes, that was the headline. If you read the rest of this article, it really doesn’t say anything of substance at all, but the headline screams “AUTISM  and MASS MURDER!”
In fact, somewhere mid-article it reads:

“The researchers stressed the study is “clearly limited” by the “anecdotal and speculative” nature of some of the published accounts. Lead researcher Clare Allely, of the University of Glasgow, emphasized the study did not suggest those with autism or Asperger’s are more likely to commit murder”

But Still the Headline Reads Significant’ statistical link between MASS MURDER and AUTISM, brain injury”
Readers that may have taken the time to read further, are assaulted with a photo of Jeffrey Dahmer. The inference is, in this article at least, that due to some of the characteristics he had displayed, he may or may not have had some form of autism.
After displaying the photo of this very recognizable face, the article does go on to say:
“Despite the patterns that emerged in the study, researchers cautioned against sweeping conclusions. Neurodevelopmental disorders, they said, do not portend mass murder.”
I am sure very few people made it that far into the article. With the headline “Autism – Mass Murder”, and a photo of Jeffrey Dahmer, how much more would anyone need to read?

If one were to look closely enough at any of us, I am sure we all have one or more traits that can be similar to person with autism. These one or two traits, does not a diagnosis make.
Not all Autistics are loners or isolated as not all loners, shy or isolated people are Autistic.
Let’s not create a diagnosis to fit the ‘study’.

Santa Barbara: – May 25, 2014
My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families of this senseless act of violence. It is a tragedy that seems to be happening much to often.
This tragedy could have been prevented. There were warning signs, the parents saw these signs. They did what we have all been told to do after each and every tragedy that came before it – they reported their suspicions to the police.

“Police visited and interviewed the 22-year-old on April 30, after a family member became alarmed about YouTube posts by Rodger that mentioned violence and suicide. While Rodger’s parents and social worker were concerned, police found the student to be polite during their interview. He had taken down the alarming posts. Police cleared the call and left without taking any action. They determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold,”  –  It does not seem that the authorities have learned very much from these recent tragedies.
And again, right in the middle of the first article I read about this shooting were the words,  “the shooter had been diagnosed as a child with ‘highly functional Asperger’s syndrome.’ –  written just like that, in the article as if to say that the Asperger’s diagnosis was the reason behind the shootings, exactly the way it had been done in the Sandy Hook articles.

Just as in the Sandy Hook articles, this claim of an actual diagnosis is being disputed:
In an article published on May 25, The L.A. Times reported that Rodger family friend Simon Astaire said Eliot Rodger, the prime suspect in the shooting, was not diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, but that the family suspected he was on the spectrum. The claim contradicts an earlier statement made by the family’s lawyer

Both shooters may or may not have been diagnosed with Aspergers, we may never know for sure, but the fact remains that there is no evidence to support the claim that an Autism or Asperger’s diagnosis, played any part in either of these tragedies. They may have had that diagnosis or that diagnosis may have been suspected, but THAT diagnosis is not the reason behind these acts. Clearly there were other, possibly undiagnosed issues at work here.
They may just as well reported that these shooters had “blue eyes”.

“Now we  caution against ‘sweeping conclusions’ based on eye color, but we just felt the need to mention the fact that this shooter had ‘Blue Eyes”.

Once again, Autism is made the scapegoat for an unexplainable horror.

Toni Braxton: – May 26, 2014

Toni Braxton wrote a memoir. Included in this memoir was her confession that she once believed that God  had punished her for an abortion she had  years ago by giving her son Autism.

Parents receiving a diagnosis of autism go though many, many layers of emotions and have many different thoughts. I do not have a problem with whatever she may have been feeling at the time. We all feel than think differently. We all handle it differently, there is nothing wrong with that.

There ARE some thoughts that should be kept to one’s self, especially when your child is involved. She may have felt guilt, she may have truly believed that this was some kind of punishment, due to her religious upbringing, but that thought should have been kept between her, her pastor and/or her therapist – forever.

Yes, I write many stories about my own Autistic son.

I write about him because I am so proud of him. – I write about him because he makes me laugh and smile everyday. – I write about him because I worry about his future. -I write about him because, I am told it helps others to understand autism (his autism, at least).

My son will come away from all of my stories knowing that his mother loves him and was never anything but proud of all that he is.

Toni’s thoughts about autism are her own. I would not disparage anyone for having whatever feeling they may have about that diagnosis.
But, this thought should have remained her own. It should not have been written about, printed in a book or spoken about in interviews. The fact that she no longer feels this way doesn’t negate the fact that her son will read and know that at one time, he was seen as her punishment. You can not take that back, no matter how much your views may have changed along the way.

You can not take that back …………………..