Tolerance

The current rate of occurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as determined by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) stands at 1 in every 68 eight-year-olds. This holds true across all races, religions and nationalities. In our database we have families affected by autism that hail from any number of foreign lands, speak many languages, and have a variety of belief systems. When they contact us we don’t ask, nor do we care, what their backgrounds are unless they need a translator to help them understand the information we are trying to share. The one thing we all have in common is autism, and that’s really all that matters.

As a non-profit we are forbidden to advocate for or against any particular political candidate, and I am not doing that here. What I am advocating for, as both a parent and as a professional, is tolerance.  What I have seen unfolding in this current presidential campaign is anything but.  A hornet’s nest of xenophobia has busted wide open, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Daily we see regular folks whipped into a frenzy of hate, saying and doing things that can only be attributed to crowd mentality.  Others have joined in the chant not to trust anyone who is “different” and have taken to condemning all within certain groups. Not only is that morally wrong, it’s hypocritical if coming out of the mouths of those who have a child with a disability.

Almost every day I hear from or about families whose child has been singled out for bullying by their fellow students or is being “picked on” by their teacher or other people in authority because of their disability.  Sometimes these complaints are warranted, and sometimes they are not.  Parents have every right to complain when their child is singled out for ridicule or abuse because of their disability.  We expect people to see beyond the autism diagnosis and embrace the child, not to have preconceived notions of what our child is like or capable of based strictly on a label.  As we often like to say, “If you’ve met one child with autism…you’ve met one child with autism.”  They are all unique individuals, as are we all.

Well, how do you expect people to take a holistic view of your child when you are doing exactly the opposite with another group of people?  Shouldn’t we, as parents in the disability community, lead the way in condemning this wholesale rejection and ostracizing of other groups of people who may be “different” in our eyes?  Otherwise, what we fear most for our children is sure to filter down to them at some point.  Who is to say that today’s hater of (fill in the blank) won’t be tomorrow’s hater of people with disabilities?

Can’t happen, you say?  Well, it has happened before, and not that long ago. Just look at the history books chronicling Hitler’s rise in Germany prior to WWII.  Not only were Jews targeted but shortly thereafter, so were people with disabilities.  Hatred begets hatred.  We are better than that in this country.  We are a country of diversity.  It is one of our brightest beacons to the rest of the world.  Let’s continue to judge people by who they are, individually, and not divide them into groups that we fear. Let’s be tolerant of others’ differences.  We would want nothing less for our children.

Comments

    Marta maclaren | March 25, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Articles like this is what should be on the news not the judgment of any class of people. People who pick on others will turn on ‘you’ someday. Thanks

    Tammy Vice | March 24, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Well said Carolyn. <3

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