Originally published at Beyond the Dryer Vent
Last Monday, Suzanne Wright of Autism Speaks told the world that families living with autism are not living -- that we are existing... living moment-to-moment... in despair... in fear of the future. That this horrible existence... this is autism.
Wright "called lawmakers to action" with desperate images of lost children, fractured families who are unable to care for those children, and institutions who would be unable to build a future for a generation of autistic adults (see entire speech here).
I won't deny that autism has brought struggles for our family and many others. We do worry about our daughter's future. We do fight for the right education for her today. And I know that autism has made things a lot tougher for families without the means to fight for their children.
But the idea that autism is a death sentence for the entire family is the type of scare-mongering that only a politician would think appropriate. This kind of language doesn't help our children, family members, or friends with autism. It dehumanizes them, devalues them, and places these people we love in the same category as a junker car that needs too much attention.
This, Ms. Wright, is most definitely NOT autism.
I invite you to take a walk with me, Ms. Wright. I won't deny that my family's steps falter from time to time -- but I want to show you what autism is to us.
She marches to her own drum -- that's for sure. And it's not always easy. But... BUT... she has given us one thing that I'm sure you'll find in common with many of those autism families you claim are wallowing in despair. Joy.
She's not lost, Ms. Wright. She's been here all along. And she's waiting for you to see her on her own terms. This is Little Miss. This is autism.
Written with great appreciation for those who started the This is Autism flash blog. Let's get this message out!