Sunday, May 17, 2009


Most of us are tired of the whole concept of "autism awareness." Shouldn't the world be aware enough already? But every now and then I see something that tells me the job is not done yet.

There was apparently a recent letter to The Arizona Republic, in which some cranky individual decried the fact that disruptive children are seen in public. In response, Mr. David Cuddeby wrote the following response (go here to see the original post and comments):
The behavior of some children in the store where letter writer Cherie Anderson works describes the way my 3-year-old grandson occasionally acts ("Stores no place for unruly children," Letters, Friday). I guess we could get him a little T-shirt that says, "This is how autism looks."

Perhaps we will take her advice and just leave him at home. As she points out, it is our problem, not hers.

The sarcasm in Mr. Cuddeby's last sentence was lost on the folks around there. Here's one of the comments left at the on-line posting of the letter:
Mr. Cuddeby, you're quite correct in you last statement in your letter; it IS your problem, not anyone else's.

Is your child better served, during those periods of time his behavior becomes uncontrollable, in a public place, where he can - and does - become an object of ridicule by others unaware of his health condition or with his other parent, at home, in an environment he knows to be safe for him?

I want to be clear - I am not saying you should lock your child away at home. I'm suggesting that you, as a responsible parent, need to determine what lengths outside activity has a beneficial effect on your autistic child, and have an option available for those periods of time you child enters one of his autistic fugue states.

Actually, that was one of the nicer comments. Here's one that seem to lay the real feelings of some folks in Arizona on the line:
Okay, let's give a little of this unruly behavior to autistic children who represent 1 out of 150 kids. Now please explain away the other 149 brats screaming at the top of their lungs. God, we have become such wimps and seek to victimize every thing we do. Nipple sucking liberals always have a "reason" for why criminals committ [sic] crimes and how it;s [sic] not their fault and why kids act like brats. Sad.

The general tone of the more civilized comments was that parents of autistic children should not subject their kids to more than they can handle. Loosely translated, that means, "please don't bring your children anywhere where we might be reminded that this autism thing exists."

So despite our desire to move on, we still need autism awareness. We need for the world to be aware that this is not just our problem; it is everyone's. If we don't get help in determining cause and treatments, and if we don't get help in caring for our kids now, then the rest of society will become all-too-aware after we're gone that they have a problem.

Go here to read Mr. Cuddeby's letter and all the comments. Feel free to add to the comments yourselves. Spread a little awareness.

POSTSCRIPT: I went back and did a little editing on this post, realizing that was being a little too broad in my condemnation of folks in Arizona. There's too many good people there, and what we see in these comments may better be characterized as merely being an open and obvious example of attitudes we encounter too often everywhere.


Anonymous navywifeandmom said...

Great post Wade.

I saw a similar conversation about a month ago on a blog that a NURSE writes. Among nurses, for crying out loud. They were going on and on and on about Jenny McCarthy and vaccines and how the only reason autism is increasing is because parents don't discipline their bratty kids and deliberately get them labelled to collect free government money. Good God. If this is how professionals in a field of altruism view us no wonder this is how society in general acts.

I wonder if we will ever receive an apology for the way we were treated once our kids are grown and it IS society's problem?

5/19/09, 3:12 PM  
Blogger Ginger Taylor said...

What is this "autism" you speak of?

5/19/09, 4:33 PM  
Blogger K Fuller said...

Will these same people complain about the cost to support all of these children when we the parents are dead and gone? Yes they will.
I have stopped and told more than a few people to be grateful that Autism has not happened to their family...yet.

5/23/09, 11:27 AM  
Anonymous BluePixo said...

Children need a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable conduct. They feel more secure when they know the borders of permissible action.

*BluePixo Entertainment - A place for mom and dad to share topics about parenthood*

7/31/09, 1:00 AM  

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