You may notice that the blog is blue. It will be so from now until the end of April. We are lighting it up blue to raise autism awareness! Below is a letter that I will be mailing to the President and First Lady this week. I wanted to share this here in the hopes that some of you, my faithful readers and dear friends, will also Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness on April 2nd. Feel free to leave your lights blue for the entire month of April. Braeden loved the blue light so much last year that we never took it down at our house. He knows the light is there for him! Also, please feel free to wear blue on April 2nd. Share with everyone why you are doing so if they ask. Feel free to share a picture of your front porch with blue light on your blogs or on Facebook. And then direct anyone who asks about it to the Light It Up Blue website for more information. Or direct them here to ask questions. I am always willing to answer legitimate questions about autism and the spectrum. And about what it is like raising an autistic son.
March 11, 2012
Barack and Michelle Obama
President and First Lady of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr and Mrs Obama,
I am addressing this letter to you directly rather than by title for a reason. Speaking to the President and First Lady there are numerous issues I could choose to discuss. I am a woman, so women’s rights and reproductive freedom are on my mind quite a bit lately. I am a bisexual so LGBT rights also mean a lot to me. And of course there is always the economy. But your time is precious and I am hoping my letter will not get shuffled in among the many others I am sure you receive daily.
I am addressing this letter to you personally because I want to speak with you as one parent to another. You have two beautiful, intelligent and incredibly poised daughters. I am sure you are very proud of them and would do just about anything to make sure they grow up healthy and safe. As a Mother, I would also go to the line for my children.
I have three beautiful children. I am writing to you today regarding one of them in particular. His name is Braeden and that is his picture at the top of the letter. Braeden was diagnosed with autism in April of 2010 at the age of 4 1/2. This was no great surprise to us, it just took several years to get a doctor to listen to us and actually do an evaluation. While Braeden is on the high functioning end of the spectrum, he does have challenges every day. Therapy and intensive work have paid off in numerous ways. We are blessed to have this wonderful child. He makes every day special.
I know you must be aware of the growing number of children being diagnosed with an ASD. 1 in 110 children is diagnosed as falling somewhere on the spectrum. Boys are four times as likely to be diagnosed. As parents, this should scare you. It scares me. It scares me when I think of the fact that in a little more than 11 years my son will be an adult. He will be wanting to spread his wings and fly. And the world is not ready for our children. The world, and America, are not knowledgable about what autism is, how it affects those who are diagnosed and how they should be treated. The cruelty and ignorance that my child has faced and will face make me furious.
April 2nd, as you know, is World Autism Awareness Day. And the entire month of April is Autism Awareness Month. This will be the third annual Light It Up Blue for Autism day this year. We, as parents, hope that by changing our porch lights to a blue light we can help to bring awareness to our communities. We hope that someone will stop and ask us why the light is blue so that we can talk to them. Initiating conversations, opening a dialogue, raising awareness and showing the world how dedicated we are to helping our children are all goals of this day.
This year more than 350 public buildings have already committed to lighting up blue. These building and landmarks include Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock Observation Deck and Madison Square Garden in New York City, Hôtel de Ville in Paris, France, the famous Tokyo Tower in Japan and Canada’s CN Tower, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge. Parents across the globe are speaking with their local government officials, business owners, family and friends to request that they also Light it up Blue. In 2011 there were more than 2000 buildings and landmarks turned blue for AT LEAST the day.
I am asking you, from one parent to another, what wouldn’t you do for your children? What if one of your girls was autistic? Think long and hard about the challenges faced by the parents of children with an ASD. Think about the adults and teenagers with an ASD who are watching the world to see who supports them. The special needs community is huge and growing every day. We are watching the world to see what changes can be made and who is willing to institute them. http://www.lightitupblue.org/Markslist/home.do has more information on the Light It Up Blue initiative.
I am asking you, as a parent, to consider lighting up your house blue on April 2, 2012. Light up the White House and make it blue for just one day. Light up the Washington Memorial, light up the numerous memorials, public buildings and facilities. Please show our children and our community that you care about us. Show the world that this community is not forgotten and is not second class.
I wish you both the best of luck and a happy healthy election year.