Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hunger Strike For Autism?

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Today, I received disturbing news from one of the bloggers I follow.

Michael Buckholtz is the blogger for the non-profit organization he founded called Aid For Autistic Children Foundation, Inc. As usual, I stumbled across his blog as I perused the many Twitter posts for autism. As a person who was not diagnosed with his spectrum disorder until grown, he brings a unique perspective to the world of autism and Asperger's. As my son grows into manhood, I appreciate that perspective.

However, Michael is going on a fast to bring awareness to the plight of those families that deal with autism, but who do not have bankrolls (or even houses to mortgage) to pay for their child's care.

He is on a 30-day hunger strike.

I am not here to judge, but I still don't like the idea of having to fast to get the attention of people. I don't know if he is being followed by a doctor to monitor his health as he does this. And, with over 900 friends on his page, some of them doctors, I am appalled at the lack of response.

Does the autism community need hunger strikes? Do we need to get grass-roots and sit-in on some senators or insurance companies to get attention to the needs of our children? Have we really come to that?

Michael thinks so.

Earlier, he asked people to write the publicist he hired in support of his book. I wrote a lengthy email. There was not even an autoresponder from Ms. Barnett.

I want awareness, but I don't want our children or even our adults with autism to have to go to such extremes to get attention. Of course, he is free to do whatever he wants, but I hope by my writing this up in two of my blogs, that people will become aware of his journey.

I know April was Autism Awareness Month, but autism doesn't take a vacation or only show up once a year. It is a disorder that families go bankrupt over, marriages fall apart over, and mother after mother (and plenty of dads!) work from dawn until dusk, caring for their children. There are elderly parents still caring and truly worrying about what happens when they are gone.

I am not sure what I want to ask my readers to do. I do want you to click through to his pages. I do want you to support him. But, most of all, I want to open the dialogue. Is it time for the community of people whose lives are touched by autism to go to more radical ways. Is it time to go past petitions and walks?

What do you think?