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THE ARC: Open letter to Suzanne Wright

Nov 17

 People with autism, or for that matter other developmental disabilities, are not victims of the predations of some evil actor, nor are their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. Instead, we appreciate, as stated in the Developmental Disabilities Act, that ‘disability is a natural part of the human experience.’

Unfortunately, your description of children with autism and their families is polarizing and divisive, creating rifts within a community that can ill afford it in these perilous times. Characterizing people with autism and their families as victims suffering from a dreaded affliction ignores the diversity of the community of people with autism, as well as their creativity, perseverance, adaptability, resilience, and overall beauty of their human spirit. It belittles the many who, rather than seeking to be cured, are striving for their human rights to be accepted and respected. It is far from reality for many people with autism whom I know and who are involved in our work. All are deserving of dignity and respect.

Certainly, it is true that many individuals on the spectrum, and their families, face serious challenges on a daily basis. The current system of social insurance and social services and supports fall well short of meeting the needs of too many who are in need of assistance. To confront this reality and achieve progress on behalf of and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, the only successful path forward is one which unites, rather than divides. We all must work together.”

The Arc is angry about the tone of Suzanne Wright’s call for a national plan for autism.  It’s not nice to talk about the desperate situation many families live with. The Arc wants us to believe that autism “is a natural part of the human experience.” Too bad if your experience is a horrible struggle with a very sick and disabled child.    We only need acceptance and respect.

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