Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I didn't see it on Oprah

It astounds me how slanted the media is in portraying autism. If one were to believe all that the mainstream media offered on the subject, they would think that autism was the absolute worst most god awful thing that could happen to a child. When was the last time that you saw the words "autism" and "optimism" together? With the exception of speaking about a cure...probably nowhere. Ask the people around work,the grocery store, etc. Ask them what they know about autism. I would bet you that at least 90% of the time you would be told that it was a tragic disorder wreaking only havoc on the lives of parents and children who live with it. Ask them how they know this. You might very well be told.."I saw it on Oprah"
Well if Oprah said it-it must be true!Because she's a celebrity. Now, I have never met Oprah, and she has never met my kids, but according to her I am "heartbroken" by this tragedy. I am? Look, I am not saying that raising a child on the spectrum is easy. It can be hard , frustrating and demanding-but equally so, I have experienced love and thankfulness and pure joy on a scale that I never knew existed. Why don't you see that on Oprah? Why does she have so much clout? I mean come on now...She publicly refers to her vagina as a "va jay jay" and we take her seriously?

We need our own celebrity spokesperson...I had had hopes for Jenny McCarthy until she opened her mouth( on Oprah). When you refer to your boyfriend as the "autism whisperer" and claim that you made a deal with god "cure my son and I'll show people the way." The only adjective I can use to describe that is-YUCK. And yet people listen to her too.Is it because shes a celebrity? (I wonder if she has a va jay jay as well?) I am not looking for an autism messiah. Nor am I looking for a cure.

I think that we do a disservice to ourselves when we start referring to people as a disorder-instead of people who are just different. I wonder how these kids whose parents were on Oprah, how Jenny McCarthy's son...and anyone else whose parent focuses solely on the negative are going to view themselves when they get older. As a burden? As a cause of their parents anguish? Oh, I have heard the argument that these parents are just doing anything they can to help their kids...but I wonder, do they even SEE them?

Thus our need for a celebrity spokesperson. Someone who can stand up and say-We are talking about people here, What can we do to promote understanding and acceptance? How can we make our schools better places for ALL children.How can we create a better world for all people? Someone who can call a genital a genital. Va jay jays need not apply.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Congratulations on your latest endeavor!

Having exposure to autistic children in a professional and educational context, I can only lend as much knowledge on this subject as I have gathered both experientially and educationally. However, one very important aspect; and probably the foundationally primary one, is heightening public perception to a level of simple homogeneous acceptance. Period.

Insofar as a spokesperson is concerned I would like to think, on a more grass-roots level, that parents, family members, concerned individuals and educators will shine through as leaders and trailblazers. You can leave your Oprah's and McCarthy's, and the rest of that rag-tag, mainstream rabble in the dust; their livelihood is wholly dependent on the fabrication of a puritanically complicit atmosphere; fatalistically so.

One of the greatest mistakes we still make is classifying our children as "exceptional"....that is, an exception to the rule. Rule? What rule? What is the exception? Conversely, the sheer ambiguity of what is considered "expectional" defies reason and logic as the vastness...the individuality of each own's processes...differs so greatly from one person to the next. The only accurate classification would be that of "child." Now, tailor that child's needs.

Financially, so much more can be done. Perhaps, with the change in presidential administrations, hope for a greater investment towards the future can be realized.

My best to you and your family.