…and that isn’t something you can say too often when it comes to politics.


President Obama appointed a young autistic man to the National Council on Disability named Ari Ne’eman.  He is also the founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.  T  Putting someone who is actually disabled on the National Council of Disability makes sense.  I mean, I always found it ironic that there was never a Native American in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs until rather recently in history.

As I read this interview I couldn’t understand why people are upset by this.  Then again I have never understood why the autistic community is so divided.  There has always been dissension between those who want to find a cure and those who are more focused on helping their children.  There has also been a great divide between those who have found success with biomedical intervention (supplements, chelation, etc) and those who don’t believe in those things.  The thing is, autism isn’t a one size fits all problem with a one size fits all solution.  Some do great and appeared cured when put on special diets while those diets don’t make an iota of difference with others.

What’s even funnier, and not in a ha ha sort of way, is that my daughter has seen two different doctors and gotten two different diagnosises.  Doctor number one says Asperger’s Syndrome, doctor number two says no it’s not but gives her a long list of diagnosises that when you put them together describe autism.  I can’t even get doctors to agree on a diagnosis for my son and have actually been told “He’s not autistic but he needs services from our autism center.”  What the hell does that mean?  I have also heard a number of other stupid things such as “He can’t be autistic because he smiles”.  We are currently doing another round of testing with a neurologist who specialists in sleep disorders as well as ADD/ADHD and autism in children.  I am convinced that he needs medicated for ADHD and I don’t make that statement lightly.

So, if doctors can’t agree on what autism looks like all the time and the autism community is so divided over this and that, how in the world are we supposed to make any strides in anything?  While everyone is fighting among themselves they are forgetting that their children need a world where they aren’t going to be discriminated against because of their disability.  They need access to things that are going to make their life easier and allow them to be productive members of society.  Now, I realize that not every autistic is going to be able to go out and get a job and live on their own.  People seem to forget that there are other disabilities that make this impossible as well.

Now we have someone who is disabled in a government office who is working to help make things better for the disabled.  I have always said that we should not expect the disabled to conform to what the rest of us view as “normal” but we should do more to conform to them.  As a society we need to find a half way point that is good for everyone.

Years ago I was “normal”.  In fact I used to walk several miles to work and back every day.  Today I have days that I can’t support my own body weight because of pain and I walk with a cane.  People do treat you differently when you have a disability.   You are someone to be pitied, and no one wants pity.  People want understanding and empathy, not pity.  You also become invisible because, in general, society doesn’t have the time or energy for someone who isn’t 110 percent.  You become an inconvenience to others if you walk slow because of mobility issues, if you are hard to understand because of speech problems, or whatever other thing that causes someone else to slow down their life for five seconds to accommodate someone else.  My daughter even noticed a difference in how people treat you when you suddenly become confined to a wheelchair.

It’s time we have someone in the government who really knows what the disabled need and want instead of having politicians trying to guess at what reform needs made or trying to conduct polls and do research to find out.  Wouldn’t you rather have someone doing the job that has experienced the way the society treats those who are differently-abled?  I realize that no matter who President Obama appointed there would be people who wouldn’t be happy with it.  You can’t make everyone happy all the time.  I don’t know anything about Ari Ne’eman other than what I read in the Wired article but he wants to make the world easier for himself, for other disabled people and their families and that is what matters.  Giving Ari this job is a huge step in the right direction and it makes sense.  Cures for disabilities aren’t going to be found over night and even if they were there would still be disabled people in the world.  We really need to make society more handicapped accessible.