By Dan Olmsted
I'd BEEN planning in my head what to say about our first anniversary here at Age of Autism, but typically a reader solved the problem. I alluded to the fact our one-year mark was coming up Nov. 10 in a recent post, and a commenter named Hannah's Dad said this: "Happy One Year Old, AOA. Activism. Investigative Journalism. Poop stories. Community support all rolled into one!"
Now, that is impossible to improve on, but let me elaborate on it just a bit. First, we have what many a mainstream rag would kill for -- readers who really care about the subject we cover and participate in our coverage. When I first started my Age of Autism column at UPI in 2005 it carried a tagline that said, "Age of Autism aims to be interactive with readers." Boy, howdy! AOA has morphed from sitting in the corner of a cluttered newsroom writing pretty much nonstop about what seemed obvious to me -- something is happening here and we DO know what is, don't we, CDC? -- into a real community that pretty much sustains itself.
I say "pretty much" because we do have hands-on editors who read every post and every comment, debate amongst ourselves (passionately sometimes, just as readers do) and try to do better every day. Kim Stagliano is the heart of AOA; Editor at Large Mark Blaxill, Media Editor Anne Dachel and Legal Affairs Editor Kent Heckenlively all do yeoman's work. J.B. Handley tells it like it is better than anybody ever has. And our much-admired colleague in digging dirt, the pioneering and persistent David Kirby, now appears here, too. As does the gutsy Katie Wright and many other parents and family members whose voices ARE the voice of Age of Autism. One thing I'm proudest of is these voices now include Jake Crosby, a college student with Asperger's.
None of this would be happening without the sponsorship of four great autism organizations -- Generation Rescue which generously incorporated us with its predecessor site, Rescue Post (Kim came along, thank our lucky stars); TACA; SafeMinds and Autism Research Institute. We've also picked up great advertisers including major sponsor Lee Silsby. And readers have donated via our PayPal button (consider a year-end contribution, won't you? We're a pretty hardscrabble operation compared to The Big One; think thousands of small donors -- $5, $10, $20. Look where that got that Obama guy!).
Our readership has grown tremendously and continues on an upward arc (mainstream newspapers, eat your heart out -- and maybe ask yourselves why). Our coverage, we hope, is entertaining, fearless, ground-breaking and in-your-face (well, in the faces of the people whose faces we should be in). And there's more to come -- if there's one principle I want to convey, it's that we're in it for the long haul. We aren't going anywhere, just as those of you dealing with autism and related disorders on a daily, yearly and lifetime basis aren't, either.
So, here's to a new year, a new era and causing more trouble to the best of our collective abilities. In more ways than one, dear reader, we really are One.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.