I have been debating whether or not I would contribute to the This is Autism Flash Blog. I eventually felt that it was important to share the perspective of an advocate, and in my case, an advocate who cares deeply about the faith-based opportunities available to those with autism and other disabilities.
For those who need a little background: Suzanne Wright, the founder and CEO of Autism Speaks (and grandparent of a child with autism) wrote a blog post that caused quite a bit of an uproar. In it, she refers to "the autism crisis" and suggests that families with autism are "not living". She repeats the phrase "this is autism" throughout her post with tremendous negativity, citing the many things autistics can't do, ending her post by saying that we are facing a national emergency.
Her post caused the sole member of the Autism Speaks Advisory Board with autism to resign. You can read the beautifully crafted resignation of John Elder Robison here. That's it, no one else with autism serves the largest organization claiming to represent the autistic community.
Nothing about us, without us.
And so I felt I had to join the conversation. I am an advocate. I care. My voice matters.
If you are interested, there will be hundreds of posts written by autistics, their loved ones and their advocates sharing beautifully crafted thoughts all along the theme of "This is Autism." Autism brings challenges for many, and difficult days and frustrations to be sure. But for most, it is certainly not the misery of crisis proportions described by Suzanne Wright.
I know many people with autism. I have shared on this blog some beautiful stories of relationships, Max and Wayne: Reflections of Shabbat Together, and I have had the good fortune to get to know Sam Gelfand, who continues to support Autism Speaks (it is not for me to undermine his choices) and his amazing abilities to educate and empower.
Your choice to support Autism Speaks or to speak out against them is your own. Reform Judaism is based on the premise making educated choices. My choice is to educate and continue to advocate.
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