Other tutors entered and exited the team, we changed consultants for the better, and I kept getting paid pretty well for less-than part-time work each week. This nonverbal boy, I soon learned, is a special gift from God. I now claim him as a relative, though he technically isn't one, because I learned to love and appreciate the special spirit that is his. I will truly miss him as I enter a new phase in my life.
Now, anyone who knows where I stand on the political spectrum can guess how I feel about Media Matters. I even subscribed to their daily e-mail for the purpose of laughing about the daily whine about the "vast, right-wing conspiracy." Still, I owe Media Matters today for bringing this to my attention. I cannot describe how shocked I was to hear that Michael Savage had actually insulted children with autism based on nothing more than his own prejudiced misconceptions. He said that autism is "a fraud, a racket," which I know for sure to be a myth. Autism is a real disorder that affects real people every day. It affects families and communities. It has affected our entire nation.
Estimates show that 1 in 150 Americans have some form of autism (because autism is a spectrum disorder). To illustrate the gender-bias of this disorder, 1 in 70 American males have some form of autism. If you go outside right now and walk through your neighborhood for a few minutes, it is incredibly likely that you will pass a house in which resides a child with autism. If you have school-age children, chances are that your child has a classmate or even a friend who has some form of autism. Some of these children can survive in "typical" circumstances and require just a little help. The boy who I know is in a class especially made for children with autism. He requires help in almost every aspect of his life. He is not faking it, and he is not just acting out for attention. He is a victim of a vicious cycle that impairs concentration, attention, social maturity, and his immune system.
Some doctors even believe that autism begins with a weak immune system (the genetic component) and is exacerbated by certain vaccinations. I happen to be on their side. Having read Jenny McCarthy's book Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, I can honestly tell you that, although a critic of big government, I am in favor of incredible amounts of research to solve this problem. We need to put vaccines under scrutiny, give parents more options, and increase governmental funding on the issue. Cancer and AIDS each get several times more research funding than autism, though autism affects a strikingly greater number of Americans. To say that 1 in 150 Americans is part of some huge, orchestrated attempt to get attention and make a "racket" is less than ignorant: it is unfathomably rude.
When it comes to autism, I don't care what stripe you are. If you mess with autistic children and hinder the process of educating the public on the most common neurological disorder in America today, I will match your ignorance with facts and destroy your myths with the joint passion of thousands among thousands of Americans who have no greater hope than the healing of their loved one. Political affiliations aside, autism is a test of America's moral decency. We have a lot of questions and very few answers, and to have influential people like Michael Savage proliferating myths about autism is not just unhelpful: it is unethical. It is an abuse of his position, and we the people must make it clear to our celebrities and our governments that autism is real, that we care, and that we aren't going away.