GREAT WALK for Autism Speaks on Saturday. The media decided to focus on the half dozen protesters instead of the hundreds of people there doing good. Following is my "letter to the editor":
6:00 AM, the alarm goes off and, if I am not already up, I try to quietly get up and shower before my 7 ½ year old, Kathryn, wakes up. (This morning, she was up at 3:00 AM, so the alarm meant nothing.) I balance getting ready for work, getting Kathryn ready for school and getting my 13 year old son, Christopher, up to start his day. Typical morning? Yes! Typical family? NO! Kathryn first needs her diaper changed and, hopefully, the diaper made for a 2 year old, held up to her 7 year old bladder. Got to find her clothes. She knows what she wants to wear and will not except anything different, but she doesn’t know the words to tell me. We get to play the "game" of me finding clothes, hoping I call them by the right name, and her crying and hitting herself because it is not what she wants. Finally, I get it right.
Fast forward to 7:15 AM. Kathryn is ready for school except for brushing her hair. Only daddy can do this and only with his brush. He is running 10 minutes late because of traffic. Kathryn is getting anxious. Finally he is home from work and I have about 5 seconds to say hello and goodbye before I leave so I am not late for work. After she gets on the bus, he gets a few hours of sleep before he has to wake up and get her off the bus.
My daughter can not speak for herself. She can not tell us what she needs, how she feels, what her dreams are, and her fears. She can not run an organization. She loves to laugh, play and loves music. I love her with all my heart! She is not autistic… Kathryn has autism.
Time is very precious for my family and me, yet we felt it was important to help raise awareness of autism and raise money for research and family resources. I, as well as other committee members, spent hours preparing for the Autism Speaks walk held in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2009. We did it because we love our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and neighbors who have autism. We did it because we will not sit back and wait, hoping some day those we love will be able to speak for themselves. Over 20 young people and their parents volunteered their time, their entire Saturday, to help. They met us at 6:00 AM the day of the walk and worked tirelessly putting tents up, helping all day, and then tearing the tents down. They left the South Park Blocks looking better then when they first arrived.
Your coverage of this event sent a message! It said that the two hours six protesters spent was more important then the thousands of hours spent by hundreds of walkers and dozens of volunteers. It said that negativity wins and positive action looses. It said that the media really isn’t interested in creating a better America, a better planet. If that was the message you wanted to send, then you succeeded. If you wanted to portray a community that cares, that loves their family so much they will do anything for them. A community that wants to work toward a better America, a better planet. If that was the message you tried to get across, I will be the first to tell you that you failed!
I know that your time is valuable, as is mine, but please give me the courtesy of responding to this letter. I do want to know why you felt a disability that effect more than one in one hundred children in Oregon, and therefore, hundreds and thousands of your viewers, was less important that any other thing you could have possibly reported that day.