Autism, Autism Speaks, and Me

My autism list has blown up with this Autism Speaks drama. That this woman called autism a national tragedy and if a million children went missing our nation would be up in arms to find them, but a million children have gone missing to autism and we haven’t done a thing.

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Here’s my issue. My son is high functioning. He is going to grow up and (hopefully) go to college, and meet a girl or a guy and fall in love and get married and have a job and whatever else he wants to do. And if he doesn’t, that’s ok too, but he can. Sure, he’s still in speech, and OT. Sure, he has some tics, and some behaviors. But he does pretty good in spite of them. And I get that so many will never have that opportunity because they aren’t so-called “high functioning.” There are days I don’t think I am functioning, high, low or moderately.

My sister wasn’t high functioning. She was pretty low functioning. She was wheelchair bound, and had a g-tube to eat, and was incontinent, and non-verbal, and a long list of other things. But I’d hardly say she was a tragedy. I’m sure lots of people would. Growing up I even heard, in hushed whispers, and not so hushed whispers, say the doctors shouldn’t have saved her, but my sister was not a tragedy. I can honestly go so far as to selfishly say that my sister was my saving grace more than once. I may have resented her, but hindsight being what it is, every ounce of compassion I learned, I learned from her.

So I can’t get behind Ms. Wright in thinking any child is a tragedy in the sense she is claiming. I’m not a religious person, but I truly believe everyone is put here for a reason, and around the people they are around for a reason. Every single person you meet has a purpose in your life. There can be no tragedy in that.

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