In addition to the video, a few other speakers and I were personally profiled on the Autism Speaks website. Below is the testimonial that I wrote explaining why autism is important to me, a self-advocate and college coach for students with AS, as an election issue:
"When you’re running a campaign, you want voters to focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you cannot. You want to draw attention to your strengths, rather than your challenges. It is exactly the same with autism. Individuals on the autism spectrum spend much of their lives being told what we cannot do, instead of what we can do.
From the first moment of diagnosis, we are given a laundry list of all the challenges that accompany autism, all the things that we will struggle with for the duration of our lives, and the notion that because we have autism, our lives will never have the quality of persons who do not.
Although I was not fortunate enough to benefit from scientifically validated interventions such as ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), it and other autism-related services have the potential to help thousands of other individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Awareness of autism is on the rise, but we need an elected official to stand up and represent us.
I want a politician who is on my side, who listens to my concerns and gives weight to my voice, and to the voices of all people living on the autism spectrum.
I want to know that politicians will work with me and with other self-advocates and professionals in creating and shaping national policies that affect individuals with autism and their families.
I want improving the quality of life for adults and children with autism to be one of the most urgent priorities on our elected officials’ agendas.
In the election, the votes of people with autism and their families will be counted, but it is up to the politicians that we elect to make our votes count."
While I personally do not agree with characterizing autism as a "public health crisis," I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak out on autism as a topic that must be addressed by our elected officials.
Also, I will be doing my best to update this blog with more regularity, as I have a number of projects on tap at the moment that I am excited to share with you all. Please stay tuned!