Earlier this week I ran a post on HuffPo called Autism Sucks and Then We Die. It was a general audience version of a post I'd run here at AofA - trying to call attention to the ever advancing manmade autism epidemic and the real fears families face as we, the parents, grow older. And ultimately die. I try to engage commenters at HuffPo by responding to their comments, both those that are favorable about the post and me and those that take me to task. I can learn from everyone, and in particular, I have appreciated learning from people who themselves are on the spectrum. That might come as a surprise to some - it shouldn't. My writing style is pretty much my personality - open to conversation, sociable and ready to have a heart to heart or a head to head talk.
In particular, some commenters who said they were on the spectrum took my headline "Autism Sucks and Then We Die" to mean that I thought they themselves sucked. One went so far as to define himself not as autistic, but as autism itself. "I AM AUTISM." I promptly and politely disagreed. Autism is a medical diagnosis, not a option on the US Census. I was quick to say that I did not say that people with autism suck. And I told them of the old song by a Boston Band called "The Fools" from which I took the headline, having grown up in Beantown and heard the song many times:
Today in my Google alert there was a story that gave me a familiar pit in my stomach. Autistic Boy, 11, Dies After Hit By SUV. Another child whose life was cut short by his autism. Sure, some folks will say, "kids are struck and killed by cars every day, Kim." Yes. And kids drown every day too. But take a look at the headlines and tally up how many have the word autism in them. It's gotten to a point where when I hear "drowned" my very first thought is "Did the poor child have autism?" From the Houston article:
Houston police officers said that Desmond Thomas, 11, who had autism, was with his parents at a nearby home, and he left the house by himself as his dad folded laundry about 7:30 p.m.
Another story quotes his Mom, "He was very impulsive and would jet as soon as he got a thought in his head," said Tina Thomas, Desmond's mother. "We never knew what he was thinking."
"He was being watched," Olguin said, "but he just wandered away. It's tragic." I'd write a bit more, but I think that last sentence sums up what I was trying to say on HuffPo. It's tragic. And I have to go update a blog called Lives Lost to Autism - something I do all too often.
RIP Desmond, and our hearts go out to his family.