By Amy Lennard Goehner, who is featured in our new campaign video "1 in 88 Can't Wait." Watch Amy in our video and then read her blog about why, as the mother of a son soon to join the "tsunami" of kids with autism entering adulthood, this year's election is important to her. While a reporter at TIME, Amy wrote frequently about autism.
It is now autumn and so many parents, including friends of mine, have kids who are heading off to college for the first time. At the end of four years these kids will be ready to set off on their own. My son will never be able to set off on his own and I would like that to be on the radar of our politicians who are in a position to help him.
There is a tsunami coming. An estimated half a million children with autism will become adults in the next eight or so years. My 18-year-old son Nate is part of that tsunami. I want the government to address this epidemic by helping children like mine find housing and employment so that they can lead meaningful and fulfilling lives with the same opportunities that their typically developing peers have. What keeps parents like me up at night is the thought, “What will happen to my child when I am no longer alive?” I won’t rest easy until I know for certain that our government is funding additional housing and support systems for our soon-to-be-adult kids.
The parents of special needs kids I have met on this journey are indeed the most special parents I have ever known. They are also the hardest-working. Advocating for a child who does not have a voice is a 24-7 job. And we will keep advocating and fighting but we can’t do this without the support of our government.
There is a passage in Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem’ which is the mantra I cite when I feel I am not doing enough for my son because there is some new therapy or vitamin or diet I read about and haven’t yet tried. In times like those I remember these words:
“Forget your perfect offering
There is a hole in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
May our politicians see the light.