I shared my recent interview with ABC News on the topic of wearing masks, and there have been some requests from within the autism community that I stay in my lane. It’s been suggested that I just focus on autism related things because that’s why people follow me. I thought a To Whom This May Concern type response made sense.
I want to take a few minutes and explain why I’m doing what I’m doing and the purpose behind it.
To Whom This May Concern
We are living in a time where taking a stand matters. I’m a single Dad with 3 amazing autistic kids. My son is immunocompromised, and you better believe that I will use my platform to advocate for anything that will help keep him and others like him, safe. Right now, part of that means advocating for wearing a mask.
I’ve spoken for almost 11 years about autism, and I still do. I talk to parents both publicly and privately daily, many just needing someone to listen. People regularly ask for my input on autism-related situations, and I’m always happy to help any way I can. I talk about mostly autism and/or parenting-related topics on my podcast every Friday. You can listen for yourself by clicking here.
With the video in question, I was talking about wearing masks as it concerns autistic people. Many autistic people deal with sensory issues that can make masks challenging to wear. I was asked to speak about my experience with my kids, and I did.
I’ve built a platform over the years with many connections. You can scroll through the people and organizations that follow me on Twitter to see how amazing those connections are. I’ve built bridges with many celebrities and government officials of all levels, including presidential candidates. I’ve made connections with highly respected public health officials as well. I don’t say that to brag but rather illustrate that there is a rhyme and reason for most of what I do. Just think about how these connections can benefit the cause of autism awareness and acceptance. These are all amazing people who could lend their voice to our cause. There will be a time when we return to focusing on that once again.
Right now, however, we are literally fighting for our lives. We’ve lost over 150,000 people in the US in the last few months and the death rate of only expected to climb. We are weeks away from most of us knowing someone who’s been infected with or died from COVID-19. Many of our children and loved ones with autism and/or special needs fall into the category of high risk due to comorbid pre-existing medical conditions. This means that everyone refusing to wear a mask is putting our loved ones in harm’s way. That’s not okay with me, and I will speak out.
If I have the opportunity to be seen on TV, heard on podcast or any other medium to speak about the importance of something that will help to keep our children safe, how could I not take that opportunity?
I publicly stand against a president who openly mocks people with disabilities. I stand in opposition to a president who is divisive, racist, hateful, and intolerant of people who are different, people like our autistic kids. As an autism community, we ask and even demand that society to be accepting and understanding of our autistic loved ones. They should be able to expect no less from us. That means taking a stand when we see people being judged or discriminated against based solely on their differences.
I stand against a president and political party who are actively trying to take away our healthcare by destroying the ACA, while we’re in the worst public health crisis in over a century.
If you think we are immune to this reality, you’re not paying attention. If you look the other way, with all due respect, you’re part of the problem.
Many of our special needs loved ones live with pre-existing conditions. What happens if they lose their pre-existing condition protections granted them by the ACA? It would be catastrophic. So, yes, I use my platform to help raise awareness for these matters, and others like them. I do so because it impacts us.
It affects all of us.
We no longer have the luxury of existing in our autism-related bubbles, solely focusing on autism-related things, and only speaking out each April.
All of the things that I’m using my platform to fight against impact all of us, and I firmly believe I’m doing the right thing. You’re free to unfollow me at any time, but please understand, that will not stop me from speaking out. I would hope that everyone can see the bigger picture here.
I would hope that everyone can step back and see how all of these things directly impact our beloved autism community before it can no longer be ignored.