I have imagined my words on paper, what to say, how to express my anger (because I am damn angry), how to fluently and coherently state why I do what I do, why I advocate for autism awareness and acceptance and why I fundamentally believe that every human being, regardless if they have special needs or not, deserves respect, with the preservation of their rights equally respected.
What has my blood boiling are the insensitive, inaccurate, judgmental, ignorant and dangerously stupid words spoken by GOP candidate Rep. Susanne Atanus.
She told the Chicago Herald that she ;"believes that autism and forms of dementia are punishments sent by God because of the growing support for marriage equality in the country and the prevalence of abortion." She goes on to state that "I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first. God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she said. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."
You can read the full article here.
Yes, you heard it correctly. She believes that God created Autism, dementia, and tornadoes to punish America because of continued support for same sex marriages and the legalization of abortion.
While I understand that not everyone will comprehend the plight of another person's personal struggle and journey, I would hope and pray that humanity would at least have the compassion to not judge what they don't understand and haven't lived through themselves.
Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, unless vile and hateful comments are regurgitated like projectile, foul smelling vomit.
I take enormous offence to her comment that my son was born because God is angry. I and thousands and thousands of others advocate for the rights of autistic people. We raise awareness to have those without a voice be heard. We educate so that others understand that autistic people can think, they have their own opinions, they process information and they are competent to learn and contribute to society.
Susanne Atanus' words are degrading to autistic people, their family, friends and those who love them and support them. She is adding to an already long list of stigma that autistic people live through ever day.
So allow me to say a few words of my own to Susanne Atanus, since I too have the freedom to speak my mind:
Your words are a harsh reminder that ignorance and prejudice are still among us. One would think that in this day and age such views and comments, especially coming from a political candidate such as yourself, would be non-existent.
Well let me tell you this, my autistic son wasn't born because God was pissed off at America. My son was born because he was meant to be born, just as he is. My son was born so that I could learn how to be a better human being. He was born so he could teach me how to communicate without words. He was born so that I could learn how to listen with my heart and see things through touch. He was born so that he could shine love, happiness, joy and fun into not only my life, but everyone around him. He was born so that I could learn how not to be judgmental of others. He was born so I could learn more about patience and acceptance of what I can't control. He was born so that I could teach others to see the beauty in life.
You are so mistaken when you say that autistic people are born out of God's wrath. What is born out of God's wrath is people like you with hateful views about the struggles, rights and dignity of other human beings.
You are a dangerous example of what we should never allow into politics because your views are not shared by the community you are hoping to represent.
To my fellow readers, live free, be happy and live your true life as you feel in your heart is right for you, without ever hurting another human being.
Most importantly, to my autism community, the one I so vehemently try to protect and defend, you are nothing of what this woman states. You are the polar opposite. You are here for a reason, a purpose and with every right to live your life. Shine bright as you have always done from the moment you were born. Educate the rest of us who still have a lot to learn about autism.
And never, let anyone silence your voice.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, based on health and education records. That figure represents a significant increase from previous prevalence estimates, released in 2012, which estimated that 1 in 88 have an ASD.
Autism is roughly five times more common in boys than girls, according to CDC estimates. One in 42 boys have been identified with autism, compared to 1 in 189 girls. Children born to older parents are also more likely to have an ASD.
According to the NIH, early indicators include: No babbling or pointing by age 1, no single words by 16 months, poor eye contact, little to no smiling or other social responses and more. (Click here for more information from NIH.) The CDC says, "Health care providers will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child’s development and behavior. Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations, while others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations. If screening instruments indicate the possibility of an ASD, a more comprehensive evaluation is usually indicated.”
According to the Child Mind Institute both genetic and environmental factors could contribute.
Autism is treated with therapy, education plans and medication. Doctors and scientists say that early identification and intervention for children with an ASD can help them thrive in academically and socially in the future. There are still studies being done to find better treatments and perhaps one day, even a cure. A paper in Cell, a scientific journal, discussed a study with more insight into what could cure autism. The study found that feeding rats with similar symptoms to autism a gut bacteria called B. fragilis lead to an improvement in their behavior. "They became less anxious, communicated more with other mice, and showed less repetitive behavior,” according to the Atlantic.
Even when multiple vaccines are given to a child on the same day, they are still not at risk of developing autism.
Studies have also shown that if a child with an ASD has an identical twin, the other will be affected anywhere from 36-95 percent of the time.
There is an 83% chance of co-occurrence for developmental disorders and a 10% chance for psychiatric disorders. These disorders include Bipolar Disorder, Fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome according to the CDC.
Children whose language skills regress before they turn 3 have been found to have a higher risk of developing epilepsy.
The CDC recommends children be screened when the are 9, 18 and 24-30 months.
LOOK: This Is What Autism Looks Like Study Shows Big Leap In Autism Prevalence Autism Is Not a Parenting Fail
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