Shooting in CA hits close to home for director of autism organiz - WNEM TV 5

Shooting in CA hits close to home for director of autism organization

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The mass shooting at Inland Regional Center, a resource facility for the mentally disabled, in San Bernardino, CA, hit close to home for many across the country. That includes a local woman who’s been watching the developments closely.

Jennifer Smith is the executive director Autism Society of the Heartland. She, like so many others, was glued to her television and computer Wednesday, but her reasons hit close to home.

“It impacts the whole nations when something like this unfolds, particularly when it impacts our community,” she said.

Smith is talking about the community with disabilities, specifically those with autism. The rampage in California affected her for two reasons. The first is because of her job.

“Our affiliate, sister affiliate of the autism society, they have meetings there,” she said.

Secondly, and more importantly, is because of her family. Smith has two adult-age children with autism.

“My daughter got very emotional (when she heard about the shooting) that this was happening, that there were bad people hurting people. And of course when they were talking about someone with autism being there, she got very upset,” Smith said.

Until a motive is known, Smith is on edge. She, like so many others, want to know if the center was targeted. Is so, she hopes metro centers talk about security.

If the reasons behind the shooting are something else, Smith still hopes the events of the day spark conversation.

“Have a conversation with loved ones, with clients, with family members about today’s society. Yes, there are bad people,” she said.

During the conversation, Smith hopes people recognize that there are good people in the world too and, despite what happened Wednesday, that you can’t be scared to live your lives.

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