My autistic brother in law, who will turn 60 shortly, has made up his mind he will not vote in November. Two years ago it was a different story. He voted in the New York presidential primary in April. He made his mind up from watching the TV news shows he watched.
Not only that, he voted for President, and voted the opposite of how his mother (who he relied on so emotionally and physically at the time) intended to vote. It led to some interesting comments from my mother in law, who wasn't seeming to like the fact that he wasn't just following along with whatever she said.
In a way, it is amazing that he never voted until 2004. And now, he won't even tell us what changed his mind. We don't press him, as he has a right to his private thoughts. I wonder, though, if the intensity of this election cycle has overwhelmed him, in addition to the fact that his mother is terminally ill.
I repeat this post in honor of my brother in law. And please, if you are in the United States, vote on November 6. Please. This may be one of the most important elections in our country's history.
The day I first posted this was election day in the United States, where I live.
Her son voted for the first time that day. 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 was 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. (Update, in 2018 it appears it may be as high as 1 in 59, according to the Center for Disease Control). 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.
Growing up, my brother in law was never encouraged to vote nor were people like him ever expected to vote. This just didn't happen. The belief was that 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 will be interesting to hear what these new adults with autism have to say in the voting booth.
I hope that many of them, unlike my brother in law, don't decide to sit this one out.