My son with autism is turning 19 in a couple of weeks; in June, he’ll graduate from high school. I took a month-long break from writing education articles to find a place for a kid who doesn’t fit neatly into a box. Our tentative plan is that he’ll attend the public school’s 18-21 program, where he’ll learn job skills and smooth out his autistic quirks, and then take math and computer classes at the community college in the evening.
In addition, I’m continuing to work on the government paperwork process. Our lawyer already helped us set up his special needs trust and gain guardianship. I am attending evening workshops to learn how to apply for Social Security and Medicaid, where I’m learning that parents have to manage their disabled child’s programs, training, and support for the rest of of his or her life; it can be a full-time job, they tell me.
Today is Autism Awareness Day. I don’t really care about inspirational “thoughts and prayers” on Instagram. I just spent two hours on the phone with the Social Security office, so I’m not in the mood for pictures of blue pieces. It would help me and many others more, if you voted for political officials, who have a disability tab on their website. Vote for folks who will make some real changes to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Theoretically, most people want a better world for disabled people, but individuals aren’t excited about personally making major changes or sacrifices. In political science lingo, this is called a collective action problem. One of the purposes of government is to overcome collective action problems like collecting taxes, providing healthcare for the elderly, and protecting the nation with troops and nukes. So, disability problems can be overcome given the right conditions. With an educated public and smart ideas, we can improve the status quo.
Changing consciousness and then developing robust programs is a monumental, costly task. Why should we bother?Continue reading