I couldn’t finish reading it.
I know it is dangerous to rely on other people for information, especially if I am going to form an opinion or have an emotional response to that information. The source document was readily available, so I had no excuse for not reading it myself. In fact, its widespread distribution was one of its disturbing aspects.
Yet I only read other writers’ responses. The posts attacking the “Call to Action” linked to the statement, but I could not bring myself to read all the words once I clicked through.
It’s been refreshing to see autism advocates and parents united against the statement by Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright. That’s important, since Autism Speaks has access to decision-makers and the money to further its agenda. Theirs was the first website I was referred to when a doctor suggested that Philip might be autistic. I’m not the only parent who has or will turn to the organization to understand what it means to raise an autistic child. That’s just one reason the others were writing in protest.
And while I became upset the more I learned about the press release, I didn’t pen my own response. I’ve been busy enough. I was committed to NaBloPoMo, but I wrote and scheduled posts in advance knowing that I will be without internet (and time) as we pack and move. That’s why I was going to leave the writing, the advocacy and the protests to other people. They were certainly well-written and appeared on blogs with a much bigger following than my own.
But then I read about a flash blog, one in which advocates had invited parents to participate. I knew then I had to contribute. Because to remain silent while hateful and hurtful words are out there is a betrayal of my son.
I started by reading the entire “Call to Action.” I read all the words that talked about the “crisis” that is autism. I read the words that focused on how horrible autism is for parents. I read the words that did not include a single mention of autistic adults. I read the words “This is autism” three times, each time angrier that Ms. Wright presumed to talk about me and my son with such authority and finality. I read the words that said in which Ms. Wright said that I am in despair and that I am depleted. I read the words in which she had the audacity to say that families like mine “are not living.”
Who the hell does she think she is?
As you can tell, when I get angry, I become less fluent and more profane. The most eloquent thing I can come up with is, “Hey, Suzanne: eff you!”
That’s why instead of words, I offer these pictures. Look at these images and then answer me this: does it look like we aren’t living? Does it look like we are in despair? Because this is autism in our family.