This day 2 April is World Autism Awareness Day. http://www.worldautismawarenessday.org/site/c.egLMI2ODKpF/b.3917065/k.BE58/Home.htm
Because autism is so prevalent, many of you are aware of it already, daily, often painfully. Many of you are unaware of the quiet struggle that this and other related challenges bring.
My sweet brother Kerry. Once diagnosed with severe mental retardation, at a certain point his diagnosis changed to autism. He doesn't speak. He has never said my name. He doesn't acknowledge hello or good bye. He lives in a community with others with severe disabilities. There is so much he cannot do.
What he can do is enjoy a meal. He loves meals and sweets. He can enjoy his rest. He dutifully puts on pajamas and sleeps with reckless abandon. He has a job and works 32 hours per week at a recycling plant because he is able to focus for long periods on repetitive tasks. This trait I definitely share with him. He uses the money he earns to buy Diet Coke which he slurps with joy.
He does not complain about work. He does not complain about his hair. He does not complain about his weight. He doesn't care what car you drive, where you live or that his shirt says "Polo." He does not know there are people who receive millions of dollars to stay at a job they are doing poorly. He does not know the hunger and rapes and abuse throughout this world. He does not know the oceans are full of plastic that we keep throwing away like it doesn't matter.
He doesn't know people recklessly use the word "retarded" to describe stupid or ugly. But I do. He cannot say "don't use the "r" word. But I can.
Here is to Kerry and a brain he could not use at his own will. And to you who can.