02 April 2009

World Autism Awareness Day

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.


  1. This is a very nice tribute, Robin. You know I'm with you on the "r" word.

  2. That was powerful, Robin.
    Thank you for writting it.

  3. Robin, thank you. Thank you for writing this, and thank you for calling me on it when I so stupidly use the r word. Because of you, I have become so much more aware of that word and how hurtful it is. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  4. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Here is to your brother, and my cousin Brian and to my neighbor Jose. Amazing people all.

  5. Hey, Robin...I was so touched to read about your brother, Kerry. I, too, have a mentally retarded sister, Janice. She is much older than me, but she has the mentality of about a 5 year old. She knows no stranger and is the sweetest person I know. A pit bull could bite my head off and lick her in the face. She's never forgotten a single soul she's met, which has amazes me to this day. She lives in a group home in AZ and I miss her terribly. Before she retired, she worked at a job, doing repetitive work, much like Kerry...putting nuts and bolts on tables and was so proud of it. She always wanted to give her money to our mother. Only she knows why.
    I, too, am very sensitive to the "r" word and cringe when I hear it. It's always a reminder to me to engage my brain before I open my mouth. Thank you so much for your eloquent words, Robin...my heart smiles! Blessings.........Nan


You have no idea how much this comment means. I really thank you for taking time to connect with me. This is why we are here, isn't it?

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