“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The pursuit of Happiness… taking comfort and joy in the company of family and friends; feeling satisfaction in an honest day’s work; giving to the world and feeling the world give back. Simple pleasures in the pursuit of happiness, but often denied to those who struggle within the parameters of autism.
The pursuit of Happiness as an unalienable right sounds naïve at best, but it is what makes America different than any other country. Americans are pragmatic enough to know that life is not fair, and Happiness itself cannot be guaranteed or legislated. But deep in the collective consciousness of the country there exists the founding belief that everyone deserves the right to pursue Happiness.
Autism in America now touches one of every hundred and fifty children; in New Jersey it is 1 in 94 children. Providing an opportunity to allow those touched by this spectrum to pursue their full potential is at the heart of every effort by autism activists. Seeking a cause, finding a cure, securing rights, and removing stigma all seek the same goal of allowing individuals to pursue Happiness to the best of their abilities.
In NJ, the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, which counts amongst their numbers women from Franklin Lakes, Oakland and Wyckoff, have taken on autism as their state project for 2009-2010. Every two years, members throughout the state support a defined special project with fundraising, in-kind donations and public awareness campaigns. Past projects included the Valerie Fund; Canine Companions for Independence; and recently, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, contributing over six hundred thousand dollars in goods and services.
Many people have been working for decades to raise public awareness with regards to autism. It is regularly reported in the press, on television, and the subject is covered from a three sixty perspective on the Internet. The Journal encourages readers to become familiar with a spectrum of behavior that impacts 1 in 94 New Jersey children. The odds insist that, all children will most likely interact with another child who has been touched by this spectrum. Teaching children that everyone is different, and everyone should be treated with respect is one goal for Autism Awareness Month. ….April is also National Poetry Month, so there’s a poem at the bottom of the article which reflects both.
Autism & Asperger’s Videos
The videos below are of individuals who are considered highly functional. The first video offers a short news clip on the heartwarming story of a high school senior with autism and a memorable basketball game. The second is a music video created by a Scotsman with Asperger’s who is charged by the U.S. Government with committing “the biggest military computer hack of all time”.
Poetry for the month of April:
I hate you when you call me names
I hate you when you look at me – blank face
I hate you when you mock at me
I hate you when you treat me as if I am not human.
Do you know that I can memorize
all the names of my families and relatives
all their birthdays and phone numbers
all the players and teams of any sports
all newspapers and schedules in the subways
And I know you don’t
Do you know that I can easily define patterns
in all the things that I see, I touch,
I hear, I smell, I taste and I dream
And I know you don’t
Do you know that I have a lot of great things in my mind
I can solve intricate mathematical equations
I can create worlds that you have not thought before
I can paint life like a magical innocent smile of a child
And I know you don’t
I want to talk to you,
but I was not given a chance
I want to tell you about the sky
but I startle when I talk
I want to tell you about duality
but I have trouble relating my mind
I want to play hide and seek
but I could not look at into your eyes
I might flaps my hand or walk on tiptoe
because these are my ways of telling you
Can we be normal and be friends?
But you set norms and rules
because you are many and we are not
Label us as a disorder or a disease
because we behave differently and you are not
Diagnose us by behaviors and observations
because you think you are smart and we are not
But I’m sorry to disagree, your theory is your opinion – not ours!
But when I hate you
It does not mean that I do not love you
It does not mean that I do not care about you
It does not mean that we can not be together
But simply because
You do not understand me.
by J. Lawsin