I’m Ed Asner and I am the proud father and grandfather of five wildly different but beautiful young men on the autism spectrum. They each have their own individual ways that they show their autism. My son has graduated college and is continuing his education. But he, like over 80% of people like him, are having issues finding and keeping employment. My grandsons are different. Totally unlike one another. Five individuals, five totally different visions of autism. Five snowflakes.
I first heard of autism probably in the 1970s. I had read about Oliver Sacks. I didn’t know much about it because it didn’t affect me. Looking back through the years I can point to people in my family who were autistic.
Two of my cousins (Sidney and Charlie) were autistic but not formally diagnosed. This was prior to 1930. With no services and help available, they each had very difficult challenges in life. The challenges were so great, that one of my cousins (Sidney) sadly lost his life to suicide. Fortunately today, because of the work of the Autism Society, much has improved in terms of support and help. But, we know we need to do more.
We have come a long way since the 1950s. Through the hard work of organizations like the Autism Society of America, progress has been made in so many areas. Advocacy has brought autism into everyone’s lives. It is not just an issue for people with autism and their families. But society in general.
My five snowflakes are the reason I speak for the autism community. I want to make sure that they are given all of the tools in life that they will need to be able to live with respect and dignity. I want them to find jobs and earn a decent living. To live independently and have families if they choose to do so. Most of all, I want them and all people living with autism to have the opportunity in life to make themselves happy.
I support the Autism Society of America because they are the boots on the ground in our communities. Through their 90 affiliates they are able to work closely with their neighbors and fight for their rights. In the coming years, the Autism Society will be working on housing and employment initiatives that are important for all. I stand with them ready to do whatever I can to help in this mission.
We need your help. Please consider making a donation this April, National Autism Awareness Month and help the Autism Society lead the way for all living with an autism diagnosis.
Love and life,