Think Globally – World Autism Awareness Day – 4-2-14

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, aiming to promote the rights and well-being of the autistic around the world.

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While we who are already “aware” of autism get worn out sometimes by “awareness” campaigns, today’s message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded me of an important international campaign that deserves our attention here at home:

Tragically, in many parts of the world, these individuals are denied their fundamental human rights. They battle discrimination and exclusion. Even in places where their rights are secured, too often they still have to fight for basic services.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a strong framework for action to create a better world for all.

Read the Secretary-General’s full message here.*

In his call to participate in a “shared vision of a more inclusive world,” the Secretary-General references the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – entered into force in 2008. This international human rights treaty, which extends the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act across the globe, has been ratified by 143 nations. Sadly, the CRPD has not been ratified by the United States – despite the advocacy of over 750 disability-rights groups (including disabled veterans) – due to misunderstandings and fear over the perceived effects of international agreements on domestic laws. It is shameful that the United States is allowing itself to be left out of the discussion and implementation of global disability rights.

Ratification of the CRPD is an important cause for autism advocates in the US. Because the CRPD aims “‘… to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity,’ It is a solid tool to foster an inclusive and caring society for all and to ensure that all children and adults with autism can lead full and meaningful lives.”. ~ UN World Autism Awareness Day 

The United States should be a world leader in supporting the rights and personhood of people with autism and all disabilities. The CRPD ensures that other countries follow the spirit and promise of the ADA, and our ratification of it would allow the US to demonstrate support of the disabled worldwide, participate in the discussion on international disability rights, and strengthen our national commitment to the rights and human value of all people.

For this April’s autism awareness, I am holding a vision of acceptance and inclusion on a global scale.

Please go to to learn more about the CRPD and why it is imperative that the US complete its ratification. Click on their Action Center to sign a petition and contact your Senators. Listen to Sen. Tom Harkin here and send him your stories to urge the Foreign Relations Committee to ratify this treaty.


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A Walk on the Beach

He remembers the paths we walked last year, along the beach and across the cliff-top fields toward the seal rookery. I let him lead. We never get lost.

Each day, he speeds down the beach, twirling two rubber snakes in his hands. I stop trying to keep up, but instead hold back to see how far he will really get before he notices I’m not with him. He goes, and goes, and goes. Do I need to run? No, now he stops. He finds me with his eyes, far back along the beach. He turns back. He never comes all the way to me, but just enough so that we are close, walking on together again in the same direction.

my son is in this photo...

my son is in this photo…

I spy a tiny speck of red and black crawling up the sand and I pick it up to show him. He labels it quickly – ladybug – apparently unimpressed, and moves on. Read the full post »

Twelve Years On

This spring, we are coming up on twelve years since my son was diagnosed with autism.

A dozen years ago, under the pressure of trying to understand this new world, it was impossible to imagine that I would see some perks in being the parent of an almost 15-year-old with autism. But, talking with some newbie parents recently made me appreciate a little more where we are now.

Don’t get me wrong. I still stress a lot about how to provide my child with the right supports, which he still needs in multiple areas. We worry over his future. But, compared to those early years when I was running him to therapies 24-7, thrust into this new field that I knew nothing about prior to his diagnosis? It’s better now.

Here are six ways that being the parent of an autistic teenager is a bit better than being the parent of a newly diagnosed toddler.

Growth1- Change happens: Now that we’re past the craziest phase of pre-teen hormonal upheaval (God, I hope that statement is true), I can more calmly report that, despite all of the developmental delays, our kids still grow up.  His teenage-hood has brought changes for both of us—beyond the fact that he’s becoming damned handsome while I’m fighting off wrinkles in a losing battle.  Read the full post »

Tough Love

I torture my child on a fairly regular basis.

Every time I indulge in this behavior, my son’s screams of aggravation and my husband’s entreaties to “stop being so mean” convince me to back off, and I am able to refrain for a few days.

But soon enough I am at it again.  I can’t help it.

I tell him:  “I am a mom, this is what we do.”

And, “You are my son and I will kiss you if I want to.”


Oh, he hates that.


Read the full post »


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