Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Health and Safety

Yes, this is a blog about Autism. And yes, this is a blog about the ups and downs of raising two children with Autism. However, I have the need to address something that may not be directly related to Autism, but has everything to do with raising children in a healthy and safe environment.

I love that Spring is here. The days are longer, the weather is warmer and the sunny days outnumber the rainy ones. This means that the kids and I can take more walks and spend more time at our favorite place: the playground! Johnny has recently taught himself to climb ladders and enjoys running amok on the sky high jungle gym and sliding down the twisting slide. Jordan loves the swings. She likes to kick her feet as hard as she can and soar through the air like she's flying. It's so heartwarming to watch them play with the other kids.  In recent trips, however, I have seen some things that have greatly disturbed me. One thing, actually, and it has occurred multiple times. 


Look, I get it. It's a personal choice to destroy one's lungs with tar, nicotine and other poisonous chemicals. I can't stop you from doing it. But do you have to do it around my kids? And not just mine, other people's? Children at playgrounds range in age from 2 years to 12 years. All are very impressionable. If they see adults doing this, there is a strong chance that they will want to do it too. There is also the risk of second hand smoke. Yes, it's in open air and the probability of inhalation is slim unless you're standing directly downwind from the smoker. But the probability is still there. There is also the further lack of respect the smokers have for the environment when they flick their butts on the ground, where any curious child could pick it up.

In recent years we have fought to outlaw smoking in public places. Most restaurants are smoke free, as are bars, coffee shops, and even our local mall. If we can fight to protect the health of the general public as they dine, drink and shop, why can't we fight for the health of our children while they are at play? My kids have as much a right as anyone to clean, healthy air.

I'm not going to martyr myself above other parents, but with children that have receptive language skills that aren't as developed as their typical peers, it's hard enough to convey the difference between what is healthy and what is not.I can tell them that smoking is bad for them, but that doesn't mean that they will fully understand what I am saying to them. This is why I think, as parents, we all need to take a stand against smoking at playgrounds. We should be able to take our kids out to play without having to worry about whether they will be exposed to toxic fumes or poor examples of how to take care of one's body. I know that the next time I see it, I am going to say something. I hope you all will, too. Maybe someday the right people will hear our pleas and do the same for our children as they have for the paying public and ban smoking at playgrounds. 

Playground fun!
I love the slide!

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