Today autism affects 1 in 50. Odds are that more families will find themselves closer to an autism diagnosis today than yesterday. Today doesn’t sound too promising, does it?
Several times in his now famous speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the word today:
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history…
…a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today…
…we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition…
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note …
…as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny…
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream today.”
I have a dream too. But my dream is for tomorrow.
As far as autism is concerned and how it affects my son, today breeds dread and frustration. It capitalizes on my fears. The worry I have about autism and for my son keeps a tight grip on me. It strangulates my thoughts and shrouds my thinking.
Afraid of what isn’t being done for Ronan and for a great many other children, today brings no solace, just more anxiety. Looking outside of my own home, today doesn’t look so good in other places either. Newspaper headlines in America promote ineffective flu shots as our best defense against a temporary sickness. They sing praises for immature celebrities’ behavior while neglecting to address a growing national crisis. Headlines scream Look here! Look there! But just don’t look at autism. Look the other way instead.
How can they tell us to look away? Autism is a crisis that affects thousands. From one side of our country to the other, it’s creeping into more communities than ever before. But today in the papers, and within the groups that should care about it, the autism epidemic goes unnoticed. So do the nightmares that come with it.
So, I’m not living for today. Nor am I dreaming about it as Martin Luther King, Jr. did. Instead, my dream is for tomorrow.
When tomorrow comes, it means that today is over. It means that what my son faced because of today—overwhelming difficulties and unfortunate delays, will be but a history.
Tomorrow means that Ronan can try again.
It means that I, too, can try again.
Tomorrow can open doors, doors that wouldn’t open today.
Tomorrow means we can fix today’s mistakes, and fix them to our advantage.
Tomorrow can bring change, changes so many of us need.
Tomorrow can be the day that makes all the difference in the world.
Will tomorrow in fact be better than today? There’s no guarantee. But from what I learned today, and how some of it wasn’t enough, I have another chance. I have the chance to rise up and greet tomorrow with a clearer head. I can greet tomorrow with more experience and more knowledge. I can greet it with strength. I will do that with confidence. I will do it because the dreams I had had for Ronan, for myself and for today were not fulfilled. Those dreams won’t matter anymore after today. They won’t matter because I plan on successfully achieving the dreams I have for tomorrow.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.