Dear pissed off mom living in Newcastle,
Wow! Can you believe all the publicity you're getting over your letter to the mother of an autistic child?! The letter where you called a special needs child "retarded" and an "animal." The one where you suggest the mother should "euthanize" her child because the world would be a better place without them, and then donate their "non-retarded" body parts to science.
Astounding isn't it? I bet you never imagined your community and the community of all special needs to rally together and support this family and this child you so heinously attacked with your letter.
You didn't just write the letter to your neighbour -- you've also addressed it to my 14-year-old autistic son and all children with special needs. Sigh, ignorance is bliss. You didn't realize by writing this letter that you were about to unleash the mother of all mothers defending their children. Buckle up sweetheart; we're going for a ride.
According to recent statistics, autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. Children with autism did not choose to be autistic. This is not caused by bad parenting or because the child is spoiled. Autistic people have their own opinions and thoughts. Some may not necessarily have the vocabulary and language skills to communicate their needs but that doesn't mean they can't feel or think for themselves. They are not "retarded". (I so dislike that word).
My son is autistic and he was born this way. Nobody chose for him to be autistic. It happened. He struggles and copes every day but he is happy and is living a normal life. You, on the other hand, choose to be abusive and ignorant in your daily life attacking and bullying people who have no control over their special needs. Were you born that way? I bet you weren't. I bet you had a tough life. I bet you must be teaching your kids all about racism and what "normal" looks like.
In the letter, you say we want special treatment. No we don't. We want the SAME treatment; nothing more, NOTHING LESS. Let me say that again in case I went a little too fast: NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. And we most certainly don't want to be bullied out of our neighborhood nor be threatened.
Our children and our family have the right to live and be part of our community. We have every right to go shopping at the mall or go to the library. We will not isolate our autistic children because their sounds and behaviour bothers others.
Good -- glad you got that.
Our children have had thousands of hours of therapy to conform to what society deems "normal". And still it is not enough. We gave our children speech therapy to help them communicate their needs. We gave them occupational therapy so they can learn how to dress and feed themselves. We gave them ABA to modify their behavior and control their outburst and still that is not enough.
So my son rocks in public when he is sitting down for too long. Does that bother society? He recites shows and talks to himself. Is that bothersome also?
I don't want society to tolerate my son. I want society to accept diversity in all forms and to support one another.
In this awful, hateful event, I believe at least some good came out of it: your letter was meant to be seen for a reason; to raise autism awareness about how autistic people are often judged and bullied on a daily basis. Your letter has united so many people around the world to support this family. Bravo! How many people are knocking down your door? Please let me know when CNN calls.
Your letter has resonated with so many people across the globe I believe for two reasons; the first is the human factor. How can one human being be so vile and wish an autistic child dead? That alone makes us all want to rally together and support this family.
The second is that living with autism we can relate and understand what this family is feeling. Although not one child with autism is the same, we all struggle with the same issues. Again, we want to show our support to a child who has no control over his autism.
You have judged a child without knowing him and wished him dead. You judged a family when you knew absolutely nothing about them and what they endure on a daily basis.
What hope do we have as a society when we attack the most defenceless people of all? What hope do our autistic kids have for their future in society if they are treated this way? What hope does my son have when I am no longer here to protect him?
According to <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0329_autism_disorder.html" target="_blank">a parental survey conducted by the CDC</a>, prevalence has increased <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/health/parental-study-shows-rise-in-autism-spectrum-cases.html?_r=0" target="_blank">from 1 in 86 in 2007</a>. In 2012, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html" target="_blank">the CDC estimated that 1 in 88 kids have an ASD</a>, an estimate that is not incorrect, but relies on different sources. Rather than parental report, it looked at medical and school records to determine prevalence.
Autism is found in <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/features/countingautism/" target="_blank">1 in 54 boys</a>, compared to 1 in 252 girls.
<a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm#233533082" target="_blank">According to the NIH</a>, early indicators include: No babbling by age 1, no single words by 16 months, poor eye contact and more. (<a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm#233533082" target="_blank">Click here for more information from NIH</a>.)
<a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm#233543082" target="_blank">According to the NIMH</a>, both <a href="http://www.childmind.org/en/health/disorder-guide/autism-spectrum-disorder" target="_blank">genetic and environmental factors</a> could contribute.
Autism is treated with <a href="http://www.childmind.org/en/health/disorder-guide/autism-spectrum-disorder" target="_blank">therapy, education plans and medication</a>. Doctors and scientists say that <a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm#233563082" target="_blank">early identification and intervention</a> for children with an ASD can help them thrive in academically and socially in the future.
Even when <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/03/29/175626824/the-number-of-early-childhood-vaccines-not-linked-to-autism" target="_blank">multiple vaccines</a> are given to a child on the same day, they are still <a href="http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/29/17516929-new-study-finds-no-link-between-too-many-vaccines-and-autism?lite" target="_blank">not at risk</a> of developing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geraldine-dawson-/autism-awareness-day_b_2979117.html" target="_blank">autism</a>.
Studies have also shown that if a child with an ASD has an identical twin, the other will be affected anywhere from <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html" target="_blank">36-95 percent of the time</a>.
Children whose <a href="http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm#233563082" target="_blank">language skills regress before they turn 3</a> have been found to have a higher risk of developing epilepsy.
These <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-anxiety-autism-idUSTRE80M0EO20120123" target="_blank">disorders</a> include Bipolar Disorder, Fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome according to the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html" target="_blank">CDC</a>.
The CDC recommends <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html" target="_blank">children be screened</a> when the are 9, 18 and 24-30 months.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/this-is-autism_n_3064385.html" target="_blank">LOOK: This Is What Autism Looks Like</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/autism-prevalence_n_2909533.html" target="_blank">Study Shows Big Leap In Autism Prevalence</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brenda-rothman/autism_b_2733094.html?utm_hp_ref=parents-autism" target="_blank">Autism Is Not a Parenting Fail </a>
Follow Linda Mastroianni on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@speaking_autis