Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gripe of the Day

I'm usually pretty positive on this blog, but I can't help but gripe today.

Regular readers will know that I have a particular interest in Asperger's Syndrome, the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. That's why this article, which appeared in several of the state's newspapers today, caught my eye.

Actually, it caught my sister's eye, and she emailed the link to me, and I would have missed it because I spent all day at a t-ball tournament two hours from here and never saw a paper today. But I digress.

The story reports that Montana's governor, Brian Schweitzer, was on hand at the opening of a new home for individuals with autism. The home, apparently the first of its kind in the state, will serve those who cannot live independently. Schweitzer has a personal connection with the cause, he mentions, because his 21-year-old son has Asperger's Syndrome and will "live with Nancy and I for the rest of our lives."

The little tidbit at the end of the article made my heart rate spike and caused my temper to flare.

"Schweitzer said his work on the project was less influenced by his experience with his own son than by what he said has been a theme of his administration. 'It comes down to our treatment of the mentally ill, reforming our corrections system, all the ways we help the last and the least in Montana,' he said."

My points:

a) Autism is not a mental illness. It is a developmental disorder.

b) Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a person with Asperger's would never describe that person as "the last" or "the least."

c) A person in his position has the potential to educate people about the autism spectrum and how it affects people. He needs to become better informed about the topic and be accurate in his definition of Asperger's. He should also make it clear that not all people with Asperger's must live with their parents in adulthood and that these people can make significant contributions to our society.

Guess who will be mentioning these points in a note to our governor?


Dawn said...

You go girl! Nothing like a riled up mama bear. I posted on that topic in May.

Anonymous said...

Good job Erin! You give the governor the "what for"!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It's interesting to hear that I'm apparently mentally ill and dependent upon my parents...I'd go tell them right now, except they live 250 miles away, and despite my college degree I'm apparently not bright enough to pick up the phone :-P Oh, I know! I'll have my husband do it for me. :-D

If I can't laugh at the situation, I'll start crying.

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

good for you. It's important those in the state house hear from us!

Anonymous said...

Hello. Thank you for sharing this. I agree with you completely. I'm an individual on the autism spectrum and many people, often professionals (psychologists even) need more education when it comes to understanding autism/Asperger's.

Blog Directory - Blogged