Normally I don’t blog on Saturdays, but I’m making an exception this year because today is World Autism Awareness Day. It’s the one day out of the year where people are asked to take a moment to consider a disorder which strikes one in 68 children. One in 42 boys and one in 189 girls. It’s an important day for me, as it is for millions of parents, and it ought to be important to you, too.
There are people who love to make fun of the mentally handicapped. Autism is an easy target because it’s become so common, but also because so few people understand what it is, what its symptoms are or, really, anything about the disorder at all.
But you’re reading this, and I’m going to assume you do care. And I’m glad you do, because this problem is going to take all of us to resolve. The kids with autism today will become the adults with autism tomorrow, and since the “deinstitutionalization” movement of the 1980s did away with the supports many mentally disabled people could count on to survive, these autistic adults are going to need to find a place in your community. In that community they’re going to need your care, your attention and, yes, your money, because without those things they’ll die.