Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic New York City teen who has been missing for almost a month may have been spotted on an E or F train near West 4th earlier this week by a fellow train rider. The photo was taken by a 13-year-old boy who allegedly didn’t want to be identified because he wasn’t supposed to be on the train at the time the photo was taken. So he posted the photo on Facebook and it’s gone viral.
The boy snapped the photo and asked the young man, who looked just like Oquendo–if he was indeed Avonte–and the boy didn’t respond and just blank stared. The photo taker then got off the train. As it stands, the real Avonte hasn’t been seen since he walked out of the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on Oct. 4.
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“Yes, it’s a close likeness,” his father, Daniel Oquendo, told the New York Daily News. “We need to get a better look to really tell. If we could find the individual who took the picture, that would help big time.” Even though the young man who took the photo didn’t want to be identified, he should offer any more information that he may have to the authorities. The fact that the boy on the train didn’t respond makes us feel is could possibly be Avonte, as Avonte is Autistic and doesn’t speak. Avonte also has a fascination with trains. These two small details provide a small hope that the boy in the photo is actually Avonte.
“We’re praying it was him and there’ll be an opportunity to find him,” Avonte’s father told Newsday in reference to the new photo. “Maybe somebody just put him on the train, just to give him up. He was dressed differently, so it’s obvious somebody’s been taking care of him — if that’s him.”
Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine is optimistic about her son being found, but doesn’t truly believe that it’s him in the photo. “I don’t celebrate yet, but I’m saying keep hope alive,” Fontaine told CBS New York. “There’s hope there that it may be him.” Vanessa is only speaking on the fact that the family has been shown countless photos of possible spotting of Avonte since he’s been missing and so far, nothing has panned out.
The Oquendo’s family suffering is all too common. Reports claim that half of all Autistic children wander off from safety in search of something that interests them. “Children with autism often have a diminished sense of fear, so they can quickly get in harm’s way,” said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, a science and advocacy organization based in New York City. “As a clinician who has worked with families of children with autism, I can recall many instances when families were struggling to keep their children safe.”
We’re definitely holding on to hope that Avonte will come home safe and sound.
Anyone with information should call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577-TIPS.
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Check out this gallery of things you can do to lift your spirit today:
1. 1. Play With A Puppy
It's no secret that people with pets live longer. Petting a puppy increases blood levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin, which are both mood elevators.
2. 2. Get Less Sleep
Usually, we're told to get more sleep, but science proves that if we get less, depression lifts! Although researchers aren’t sure why it works, they speculate that one night of sleep deprivation may reset the sleep clock, enabling people who are depressed to sleep better.
3. 3. Play Peekaboo With A Kitten
As an admitted cat hater, even I can't deny the power of an adorable kitty!
4. 4. Become A Drummer
Drumming relieves stress and even allows for your aggression to be expressed in a healthy way. While it may be helpful to bang out a few notes at your desk, joining a drumming circle could be as therapeutic as, well...therapy!
5. 5. Walk It Out
Taking a walk is often used to relieve stress, but little do you know, fresh air does wonders for the brain. It energizes and uplifts!
6. 6. Smile
Turn that frown, upside down! We all know it takes more muscles in your face to frown than it does to smile. Research proves that the physiology of smiling actually makes you happy. Go ahead. Try to smile and see if notice a change in your mood.
7. 7. Feed Your Face
A dip in your blood sugar can effect your mood in a negative way. What causes your blood sugar to dip? Not eating! So make sure you get in your three square meals plus snacks, everyday! Make sure you're looking for foods rich in Omega-3 fats., as these foods have been shown to lift moods and can possibly alleviate depression. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish like salmon or sardines, canola and olive oils, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.
8. 8. Listen To Music
Music has a way of creating a cocoon of positivity around you. Tune out and tune into some of your favorite songs. Get lost in the melody, lyrics and soothing tunes and you'll feel better in no time.
9. 9. Volunteer
Taking yourself out of the picture and focusing on helping someone else keeps your own stress down to a minimum. Nine times out of 10, you realize that people have it worse than you, and that allows you to put your own troubles into perspective. It could always be worse.
10. 10. Get You Some
Recently a 100-year-old woman expressed that for her very special birthday, she wanted to get her some, you-know-what. But here's the thing, sex does wonders for your mood and evidently it's the fountain of youth too!
11. 11. Laugh A Little
Nothing says good mood like a healthy and hearty laugh! Making sure giggles are inserted into your day is a bonafide way of just letting it go.
12. 12. Get A Massage
By adding therapeutic massage to your routine now, you'll feel, look and simply be healthier. In fact, stress relief alone can improve your vitality and state of mind.
13. 13. Take A Deep Breath
When you're feeling frantic, you should stop, close your eyes and refocus your breathing pattern. Shift your breathing and take longer breaths. This will soothe your nerves, send oxygen to your brain and refresh your mind.
14. 14. Press Your Palms
In case you can't afford massages, give yourself one! Start with your hands, focusing on pressing the thumb from your opposite hand on the fleshiest part of your palm and firmly kneading in tiny circles and repeat.
15. 15. Let Them Eat Chocolate
Chocolate causes euphoria. No, really. The sweet treat contains alkaloids and magnesium, copper and other minerals that regulate and stabilize brain chemistry.
16. 16. Beautify Your Surroundings
Nothing says happy like looking around and catching all the beauty that's around you. Taking pride in your personal space and keeping it beautiful, makes your mood beautiful. And if that fails, surround yourself with Idris Elba.
17. 17. Stretch
Stretching a few times throughout the day stand up stretch out your arms, your back, your legs, and your neck. Be gentle and don’t over do it. Stretching should feel great and renew your energy.