This picture really has nothing to do with today’s post. I should’ve put it in yesterday but I figured I’d save it for today because why not start todays post with something soothing since I’m gonna go off on a little rant.
In the US, 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism, 1 in 70 boys. That’s astonishing (and I think, sad). In military families, the statistics are even more staggering. In some groups as many as 1 in 28 children are affected. Yes, 1 in 28. Surely by now everyone knows someone or at least knows a family who is affected. Temple Grandin even had a movie made about her and it won awards. Autism is big news right??? Nope.
I came home from the walk feeling really good about what’s being done to help our children. Thousands of people came out to walk. Hundreds of thousands of dollars had been raised, $780,651 according to the Walk Now website. There are doctors and therapists and parents and people with autism all over the world working tirelessly to shine a light on this issue. I know for a fact that this is not a group who are sitting by quietly waiting on someone else to do something. This is not a group who are just playing with the cards they’re dealt and carrying on. These people are out there, everyday, being loud and aggressive (in a good way) to make sure that we and our children are not ignored or left by the way side. So why is it that on the evening after the walk there was not 1 blurb about it on the news? I checked all the major TV stations that night as well as the next morning. I wanted to see it. I wanted to hear how many people had come out to support the walk. But there was nothing. No-one would have known it happened unless they intentionally went looking for the information online or happened to be in the city at that time in that spot by chance. What a bummer!
You know what did make news on Sunday June 5th, 2011? Anthony Weiner’s wiener. And that was before he had even admitted that it was, in fact, his wiener. There was a news story about the Tour de Brooklyn. A bike ride that makes it way through Brooklyn to raise awareness and funds for … Nothing. There was a story about a parade that celebrates everything Israel and it was noted that Anthony Weiner wasn’t there. I have nothing against Israel but really? They even did a story about supermarket discount cards and how much of a pain it is to have to carry them around. That’s a pain? What about the pain of having to see your child struggle to communicate with you? What about the pain of seeing your child cry and you have no clue why? What about the pain of mounting medical bills or not having the resources to provide your child with the services you know they desperately need? What about the pain of trying to get schools to do right by your child? What about the pain of seeing your child get left out of things or get made fun of or of hearing them get called retarded/stupid/dumb by other children and sometimes adults? What about that pain huh? I’d carry all the cards for all the supermarkets in the world if I could ease those pains. There was a story about a little girl who needs a bone marrow transplant and they were looking for people to come and get tested to see if they’re a match. I have nothing against that kind of story being on the news. I’m actually registered with the National Bone Marrow registry but come on … they gave that 1 little girl a whole segment. They could’ve given our 730,000 children a 20 second spot.
Someone who kind of knows me and knows that Jay has autism recently saw a picture of him and said … “That kid’s still in diapers? You need to get him on the potty”. I’m sure I should’ve said something more eloquent that this but my response was … “Yeah, well if it was that easy I would but everything’s not that easy when your child has autism.” That person just said “oh yeah” and walked off. My point is that even people who know, don’t really know. We still have a lot to do as far as educating people goes. We still have a lot more noise to make if we want to get noticed. We have to. For our loved-ones sakes. We can’t be silent. We can’t hide or try to fix this on our own, in our own little autism bubble. It took me a while to get comfortable with acknowledging that Jay has autism. But I quickly realized that not acknowledging it doesn’t help him. He needs to live in a world that understands him and that will be accommodating to him. A world where he doesn’t feel like an outsider. It’s not gonna be easy, but it’s a necessity.
Maybe by next year we would have made some progress and we’ll get one of those scrolly things at the bottom of the screen while the “real news” is being told. Maybe not, but I’m hopeful and I’ll still be here doing my part to get the word out.
p.s. Who noticed that I now know how to link to another website? *Takes a bow*. Big thanks to my dear friend at Curry Bear.