Written by Beth Ryan
The Combating Atutism Act is expires this fall. As written, it is a source of national shame.. It is, therefore, imperative that this legislation be completely overhauled. Or it must not be renewed.
My Autistic child will always be my child. But someday, she will be my adult child. I regularly get grim glimpses of her future through my involvement and friendships with Autistic adults.
The vast majority of Autistic adults that I know, and I do know many, live in crushing poverty–constantly facing lack of suitable employment opportunities, deciding between heating their homes or buying food, denial of access to needed medical treatment, and so much more. They lack the supports and accommodations that they desperately need in order to survive.
Autistic people, particularly Autistic adults, have been forever under-represented and under-served. Our legislators have failed to incorporate input from those that Autism legislation is intended to serve–that is, of course, assuming that Autistic people are the intended beneficiaries. It would be unthinkable to pass legislation which dismissed the advisement of the population of any other minority group that it is intended to serve. Not the parents/caregivers of those minority groups. Not the big name “charities” claiming to represent the interests of Autistic people, all the while, completely excluding them from meaningful participation. But the stakeholders themselves.
My eight year old daughter deserves a future and Autistic adults deserve a present. They are entitled to essential supports across their lifespans. Reallocating funding so that she, and other Autistic people, have access to education, employment opportunities,medical treatment (especially preventative medicine), etc. will serve the interests of both the Autistic community and the country as a whole.
And for the love of all things holy, rename the legislation. Combating Autism Act? That’s a disgrace. It underscores the fact that the current legislation is focused on eliminating Autistic people rather than supporting them. Using violent language to describe legislation allegedly designed to enhance the lives of Autistic people and their families is reprehensible. It is, in effect, sanctioning the dehumanization and discrimination that Autistic people, including my child, face every single day.
Enough combating human beings. Not nearly enough support.