"It is with sadness that we will have to decline the birthday party invitation for your son," one mother wrote me, "as such short notice was given." I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Again. You see, my son Casey has autism, and I had been busily planning all the arrangements for his seventh birthday party for weeks. I wanted to tell her, in earnest, that I had tried, I really tried, to get it right this time.
Inclusion is held up as the ideal learning environment, and rightly so. Successful integration is possible, yet it doesn't magically happen when you throw a child with high-functioning autism into a class of 20+ children, cross your fingers and hope for the best. In many cases, though, in schools across the country, this is exactly what is being passed off as inclusion.
Odin will remember this birthday forever, I'm sure, and what people in Peterborough and people around the world did for him is remarkable. What will be even more remarkable is if we can keep Odin in our minds now that his birthday is done. If, because of his story, we can be more aware of how many other stories like his are going on right now. If we can start to think about how our culture enables this story to happen again and again. Odin and his wonderful mom have started a conversation. It's up to all of us to keep it going.
This is another prime example how the rights of special needs children continues to be violated by the same people that are in a position to protect them. The abuser doesn't see these children as whole. They see them as deficient, less than and certainly not worthy of respect and dignity. This principal didn't see them as whole human beings. She saw them as "animals." What message is the school district sending when they fire the person that has reported the abuse?
The problem is that an ASD is a permanent neurological disorder; it doesn't go away, but rather confirms itself over time. As parents of children with special needs, we each have to find our path. Over time, we all find our way. For me this was, and continues to be, a lesson in acceptance and redefining my values.
As important as research is, I truly don't believe this should be the number one priority when discussing how to improve the lives of people with autism. How is research helping the autistic individuals living in our society today? The ones that are stigmatized for who they are; the children who are on waiting lists for government funded therapy that unfortunately never comes and whose parents are forced to go privately, depleting finances at an astounding rate. They are not part of an incomplete puzzle. They are here, they are whole and they are deserving of equal opportunities.
Clearly Dr. Shepherd-Look's comments demonstrate how her degree in psychology does little to help her understand autistic children. Perhaps she should speak to autistic people before making such inaccurate, misinformed, misguided and completely ridiculous remarks about the mitigated bonding between mother and child.
I loved the Salon de l'autisme (Autism Expo) that took place in Laval at the beginning of October. For the first time in a long while, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time with my new foster family. There were information booths everywhere; about a hundred of them; designed to suit all tastes and needs.
It was an ordinary summer day. People were milling on the main thoroughfare, bikes zig-zagging through traffic, cafés and pubs spilling onto the sidewalk, patrons sipping their way through a lazy Friday afternoon. We were ordinary that day too. Just another family, managing the hectic jumble of kids' lessons, bills, our careers, endless streams of birthday parties, too little sleep and the occasional date night out. But it was all shattered with a single word: autism.
Merck now faces federal charges of fraud from the whistleblowers, a vaccine competitor and doctors in New Jersey and New York. Merck could also need to defend itself in Congress: The staff of representative Bill Posey (R-Fla) -- a longstanding critic of the CDC interested in an alleged link between vaccines and autism -- is now reviewing some 1,000 documents that the CDC whistleblower turned over to them.
I understand why people kill themselves. I think about it every day. That's not an exaggeration. It varies how much I think about it each day, but there hasn't been a day in the last six months that I haven't thought about it, and it's been this way since I was about 10. Very very occasionally I get a day where I'm struggling really bad, but I don't want to be dead. But it's not often.