What’s the World News Got To Do With It?

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 11-01-2009

Should this blog only discuss autism? I will tell you, I can’t just focus on that. Soon, the old Joy of Autism Blog (down-loadable also by clicking on the PDF file in the right margin) will be published and you will be able to read eight hundred pages about our world as it relates to our lives with autism. Some posts are very specific; others meander for your consideration.

I promise, however, to complete three projects this year specifically regarding that are specific to disability and autism:

1. I will be completing a paper on single parents of disabled children as it relates to stress, coping, management and quality of life;
2. I will be writing a piece on investment and financial planning for Canadian families with and for disabled people;
3. I will continue the Inclusion Initiative with TAAProject (which in and of itself entails a few projects)
4. I will be enhancing Adam’s curriculum as usual (that’s the major part of my daily life).

In addition to my studies at the Critical Disability Studies Department at York U, living and planning for Adam’s life and writing about all that, and now with a specific interest on managing life and our future as a single-parent family, I have this urgent need to muse about our world, perhaps oh so generally that it makes some of you crazy. But hey, everything is connected.

As I read The National Post this morning, I remind myself why it’s good not to read the papers everyday, but also naïve not to. Here in Toronto, we have Palestinians protesting on Bloor Street the crisis in Gaza — police on horses are eerily positioned way too close to home. In the comments section of the post Mark Silverberg from Toronto eloquently writes on how Israel is “losing the PR war” — referencing an article by Jeet Heer, Silverberg writes, “According to figures on the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, 1,176 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist and missile attacks since 2000, including 140 suicide bombings killing 543 individuals – many of these attacks perpetrated by Hamas. Quite impressive achievements by a group Mr. Heer refers to as ‘a raggedy half-starved guerrilla force whose homemade missiles are usually as dangerous as firecrackers.’” Silverberg sure has a point here. The media wars influence our thinking in grossly unfair ways. I think of a quote by Golda Meir herself that sends chills up my spine when I think of the media wars on how they influence perception and how all life is truly precious. She said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when the love their children more than they hate us.” I hate reinforcing monolithic ideas — that all Arabs don’t love their children — I would not let that stereotype go on for the sake of my Arab friends! But there is a wave of terrorism that uses children and families as human shields. That’s the kind of use that we have to focus on — not stereotyping an entire people, but focusing on the groups that simply do not accept the right for all of us to live in peace. Meir’s quote may rub some of you the wrong way, but it also rings of tremendous conscience and responsibility in a complicated situation.

As I’ve said numerous times in my presentations, there is enough death-talk in this world — even among many autism “advocates.” It’s time for more life talk.

Let me go on about what I see in the paper: an article on epigenics on the front page. Sounds nice that we might in utero be able to detect if human beings will develop cancer later in life (the article carefully leaves out people with disabilities, but of course, read between the lines, my friends). I think of my ovarian cancer this year that I caught, thankfully, early. So, if it was detected in my mother’s womb, might my life have also been prevented?? Are we going to cure it in utero? “It’s about choice,” says the article. Indeed, I’m an advocate for choice. Yet, there is a point when social pressure is so strong when choice ceases to be a choice.

Let’s go to another page. This one really effects me. You see, when my divorce becomes final, I had this idea in my head that I would travel to India. It’s the trip of a lifetime for me. Also front page that continues on the back: all the missing Canadians. Never mind the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai this past year. That really put a damper on my willingness to travel. But if that didn’t quite do it, this article did called, Searching for Ani, and Anatomy of the Hunt…. “Every year hundreds of Canadians go missing in other parts of the world. Last year alone, Foreign Affairs opened 413 missing persons files….”

So much for my desire to go to India with a sweet wonderful autistic son at home who really needs his mother. So you don’t think the news has much to do about autism in what should be a strictly autism blog? I beg to differ. I don’t go out much since my separation. I am careful about who will be in our lives. I am careful about everything and yet, I am able to connect with thousands of you (2000 to be exact) through The Autism Acceptance Project alone – never mind blogs and Facebook. The world is rough out there, and so here we are trying to connect with each other on the Web. In this world that seems to be falling apart at the moment, we must never give up connecting. The enormously wonderful and potentially dangerous power of the web! We have a choice on how to manage this world. We have a choice in the way we report the news and the words we use. We can also keep speaking up against stereotypes if we are to move forward.

I reiterate the words of recently deceased Canadian writer June Callwood on page A10 of The National Post, where the winning design for a park in her honour is proposed to be built between Fort York and the Waterfront. “Submitted by the firm gh3, it literally articulates a quote the author and journalist gave in her last interview before her death. A voice wave of ‘I believe in kindness,’ will be translated into a ‘sinewy path that runs north and south through the clearings in an urban forest that will be planted with native Canadian tress….”

So you don’t think there’s any connection between autism, the world, the media, and the way we think about things and the world we forge for our children? It’s ALL I can think about when I read the paper: how do we think about things, each other, and where are we headed?

Thank goodness all that bad news was punctuated with the most important quote of all:

I believe in kindness.

I hope the sentiment never gets lost in the propaganda.

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.