Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1 in 100 - Autism Votes

A Facebook post by a Facebook friend of mine, a woman who has an adult son with autism, inspired this post.

Today is election day in the United States, where I live.

Her son is voting for the first time today.  Although she is his legal guardian, her son retains his right to vote.  She told her Facebook friends that her son has looked forward to exercising his vote for years.  This is a big day for him.

It's also a big day for our country for another reason.

Her son is on the leading edge of a wave of soon to be adults with autism.  Some say 1 in 100 live births in this country result in an individual with autism.  Not too long ago it was 1 in 166. Then it was 1 in 150.  Let's assume for the sake of argument that the 1 in 100 figure is accurate.  Let's step back a moment and see what that means.

Those babies are going to grow up.  In fact, the "leading edge" of the autism epidemic I just mentioned are now legal adults in many states, including New York (age of 18).  Just wait until all those adults with autism, who have been given the tools and supports to vote, start to exercise that right. 

And,  it is never too late.

My brother in law, who has autism, is in his 50's. He voted for the first time in the 2004 Presidential election.  Growing up, he was never encouraged to vote nor were people like him ever expected to vote.  This just didn't happen.  They weren't "normal".  So their voices, and opinions, were unheard.

In 2004, a person who worked with him in a support role decided that my brother in law should exercise his right to vote.  He watches a news station that carries a lot of political discussions and has formed very definite political opinions.  Why shouldn't he vote?  She worked with him, he did vote, and he was very proud of voting for the presidential candidate of his choice.

For the first time, his voice was heard.

It is not easy for a person with autism to vote, as described here, but it can be done with proper education and proper support.  This issue isn't restricted to the United States, either.

It's a new day, and soon, the politicians will feel the power of that new voting block.  It will be interesting to hear what these new adults with autism have to say in the voting booth.

1 comment:

  1. My son has autism too. He is 14. Lately I have come to the conclusion that he will never drive. I had been undecided in the past waiting to see how things may go, but I don't think, based on how he is right now, that it would be safe for others or him to be a driver. Now that my 16 yo daughter is driving it has really hit home. But voting, that is not something I had thought about. Now I think that in addition to considering what job ops he has, that I need to expose him to news, etc. that will help him be a voter one day. THAT I think he can do. What a cool accomplishment for your friend's son.


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