Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Open letter to Ernie Brown (area talk radio show host)

The following letter is in response to THIS news report and his subsequent ranting and unsympathetic criticism.

I do not think the airline over compensated the family of the child booted from the flight. We may not be in possession of all the facts in this story.

I am mother to twin autistic girls. They are six now and after intensive intervention therapies for three years, they might be able to fly, but at three they would have behaved the same way the child reported on in this story was described as behaving. There was nothing we could have done about their behavior. We weren't bad parents. In fact, we were and are incredibly dedicated parents who would have been bewildered, embarrassed and frustrated by the situation too. And it would have been an all too familiar scene. When facing new situations with unfamiliar people, smells, sights, and surroundings, they often flew into tremendous tantrums. I endured heaps of unfair criticism and judgement from complete strangers who felt free to offer such helpful advice as,

"Those children need a spanking!"

You can't spank autism out of child.

Or "If those were my children, they wouldn't be getting away with such behavior!"

Really? Then I know about 25 families who will be glad to bring their children to you so that you can straighten them out.

These are just a couple of examples. It goes without saying there have been many rolled eyes, overt stares, and dirty looks. Do you suppose a wheelchair bound or
Down's child or their parents would be so freely criticized? As a parent of children with hidden disabilities, you have to develop a thick skin.

Aside from reporting the story, you railed about "screaming and crying" children in restaurants. Restaurants are another place that children with autism and other developmental delays struggle. So are grocery stores, pharmacies, parks and virtually anyplace that entails waiting or circumstances outside of their normal routine.

We don't know if the child in this story has autism or some other pervasive developmental delay. The child's parents may not even know. Autism is usually not diagnosed until the age of three.

If you want to see what autism is all about, watch THIS short video called Autism Everyday. Perhaps it will give you a different perspective the next time you encounter a family out in public with a seemingly ill behaved and out of control child.


Susan S.


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