Managing Editor's Note: Our new contributing editor Abdulkadir Khalif is indeed a Father Warrior. Through his work with Parents United Against Autism, he has enlisted a local MN business to create an Earth Day Promotion. Read this letter from the Marketing Director for Totally Kids, a furniture and toy store in Bloomington, MN. Any chance we can raise enough money to send Mr. Dumas to medical school? You can email Mr. Dumas HERE. Better yet, check out the Totally Kids site HERE.
It would seem we are in the midst of a formative time for the fight against autism. The Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area is a significant battleground and with the recent “discovery” of the high prevalence of autism in the immigrant Somali community, the tide could be turning, but only if we take initiative.
I’m the newly hired marketing director for a children’s toy and furniture store in Bloomington called Totally Kids, and one thing I was made aware of immediately was that we get a steady, if not frequent, stream of parents coming to find toys and furniture that help their autistic child. Since my arrival, it’s become a focus of ours to declare the company as both a provider and advocate for parents and children of the autistic community and to get involved in a way in which we can make an impact.
Finding that 1 in 150 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism took only some quick math to realize that this problem was reaching near epidemic levels. Imagine for a moment what two thirds of a percent of our national population, nearly 2 million people, would look like all standing together, and you can understand why this rate of growth is unacceptable.
Based on my growing knowledge of autism and history, it would seem that we as a community are on the precipice of a huge breakthrough in an issue that could be growing at such a rate as to affect nearly every family in this country in a relatively short period of time. Having read more about the recent state health reports findings regarding Somali children and their overrepresentation in the autistic community and subsequently finding my way to Abdulkadir Khalif’s recent article in this very journal, I see a very unique and specific situation he describes that could shed the final light on how to banish this specter that’s been stealing children from their parents for decades. I also see a problem in there being no sense of urgency on the part of our government and society at large to take advantage of this situation and put an end to so many families’ suffering and to ensure that it doesn’t grow beyond our control.
Although the state is reluctant to admit the link between the unique situation of these citizens and the prevalence of the disorder, one must believe that it’s only a matter of time until they are forced to deal with that very reality. The sooner they get themselves together on this, the better. It’s understandable that more testing need be done, the first was only for a sliver of the metropolitan population, but there’s no reason and no time for dragging their feet while so many children sit silent.
They must take advantage of the opportunity to study such a specific case and derive answers. Studying the changes in climate, health care tendencies, and all other factors common to these families may be expensive, it may be difficult, but it’s necessary and it’s up to we in the community, including businesses, to make enough noise to force their hands. Thus, this is how my company is making its contribution.
Although our effort is small in comparison to the scope of the cause, we’re hoping to generate the publicity for organized groups and parties that can get to the root of the matter and provide the answers so desperately needed. This month, during the week of Earth Day (April 22nd), we’re working with Parents United Against Autism to get toys and tools for autistic children from our fellow community members. We’re asking all families with toys to give, to come and “recycle” them at our store and the PAA will get them to the families in need. It’s admittedly, not a tremendous campaign, but it’s something that we can do within our circle of influence during a time of opportunity and hopefully generate enough interest to cause individuals and our fellow businesses to do the same.
I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Mr. Khalif in the past week and more so than anything, I felt the passion and heartache that befalls a parent when their child is diagnosed autistic. I also felt the passion for which he seeks a cure and realized that there is cause for hope all around us, it’s just a matter of finding direction and applying effort. There is no excuse for our society to lack in these areas. If a solution is to be found, it’s our responsibility, our purpose, to find it for the survival and the strength of our way of life.
Please take a moment to think about how you or your organization can apply your strengths and abilities in ways that can benefit the cause. Reach out, get in touch with people who can give you help in finding direction, and let everyone know what you’re doing and why. When the time comes that autism is a thing of the past, as many diseases have been cured before, we’ll know that it was because we demanded it to be.
Jesse R. Dumas
Marketing Director Totally Kids Fun Furniture & Toys
If you’d like to participate in the upcoming Toy Recycling Drive to Benefit Autism, please call 952-881-2425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations will be accepted anytime between April 20th April 25th and all those donating will receive a 22% discount on any new toy purchases in celebration of the April 22nd Earth Day.
Items specifically beneficial to autistic children include but are not limited to:
• Visually stimulating toys with moving parts and/or moving lights.
• Toys emphasizing motor skills such as activity arches, balls, catching gloves.
• Toys encouraging cognitive though like building blocks, puzzles, remote control toys, and sorting games.
• Games encouraging social interaction, competition, cooperation, and fine motor skills
• Toys and items encouraging independence such as books, tables, rocking horses, clocks, and bean bags.