Frustration and disappointment are not strong enough words to describe how I feel sometimes. There are times when I could absolutely just pull my hair out, if I had any, that is.
This year, the White House has brought awareness to many things. It has been green for St. Patrick’s Day. It has been pink for breast cancer awareness. It has displayed a gigantic red ribbon for AIDS awareness.
And it has been blue for autism awareness.
I totally support raising awareness and promoting advocacy for breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is deadly, and I have seen first-hand how it can break down one of the strongest people I know as she watched her mother succumb to it. I run in the 26.2 with Donna each February in honor of my friend’s mother.
Prevention of HIV/AIDS has been a goal of our great country for about 30 years now, and if hanging a giant ribbon on the White House helps raise awareness and helps to teach people about this deadly disease, I am all for it.
Where I do have an issue is any sort of special event at the White House for St. Patrick’s day. It is not that I am anti-Irish; far from it…I have been known to in the past partake in a green beer or two on St. Patrick’s Day. I just don’t understand why the day deserves special recognition at the White House. Are we trying to make people more aware of the color green?
I guess maybe it boils down to just plain ignorance. Maybe the President just flat-out does not understand autism, so he chooses to blatantly ignore raising awareness. Sure, he issued a proclamation for World Autism Awareness Day, but let’s be honest, someone in the press office wrote the thing and he just signed it. Maybe the autism community is just not loud enough, making us easy to ignore. Maybe we are ignored in hopes that we will go away.
Who knows, maybe the White House will be blue next April for Autism Awareness. I make this gesture of goodwill to the President: if you buy the blue bulbs, I will travel to Washington and install them myself. Better yet, since the government would probably pay $19,000 per bulb, I will stop at a Home Depot on the way and buy some bulbs and install them, and I won’t even ask to be reimbursed. I give it about a 50/50 shot that the White House will be blue in April, because it is, after all, an election year. But I will humbly submit this request ahead of time to President Obama: please do not pander to us to get a vote; autism was not important to you in 2011, don’t make it important in 2012 hoping to secure a few extra votes. We are not stupid. Maybe I am just being overly sensitive to this whole issue and should let it go.
It saddens me that blue was missing from the White House in 2011. Too many people turn their backs on autism because it is an “invisible” thing, and learning about such a complex diagnosis would take too much time. I for one will continue to advocate for autism, and educate myself, and share with anybody that reads this. I will not turn away from autism because it is difficult to understand, and if you have taken the time to read this, I would ask that you do not turn away either.