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Dear Rosie…An Open Letter about Autism (Probably Part 1 of Many)

AN OPEN LETTER TO ROSIE O’DONNELL, PART ONE

Over the Thanksgiving break, I read about Rosie O’Donnell. Via Twitter, O’Donnell acknowledges how her young daughter has an autism diagnosis. We applaud her bravery to seek a definitive diagnosis to explain whatever challenges Dakota may have. Furthermore, we welcome O’Donnell as a staunch advocate for positive change.

Millions love Rosie O’Donnell as a comedic entertainer. We watched her spar with (now, President-Elect) Donald Trump through social media. Obviously both O’Donnell and Trump have each others’ attention and respond in kind.

Now hypervigilant about autism symptoms, O’Donnell took to Twitter on November 21st and asked a question related to autism. Her tweet is embedded here, but I chose not to activate the video link; the video itself is not today’s topic. Rosie O’Donnell’s influential advocacy role as a loving caregiver to someone with autism is our topic.

rosiebarron

Question: Name someone – anyone – who can elicit a passionate reply from our soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief? Is O’Donnell at the top of your list, after crossing-out (untrustworthy) media sources?

I appeal to O’Donnell’s love for her daughter on behalf of 3.5 million United States citizens living with autism. Use your advocacy skills, love, and Trump’s attention to start a non-confrontational discussion about autism. People will (and already have) listen to you. You’ve more ways to continue said campaign than most readers’ resources pooled together.

Everything lives forever on the internet, so I caution O’Donnell from referring to any child’s possible health concerns without parental or their own consent. This admonition includes referencing Barron Trump, too. I believe O’Donnell is: 1) NOT a certified medical professional trained to diagnose autism, 2) NOT Barron Trump’s physician, and 3) WANTING to start a positive autism discussion at the highest political level in our land. Therefore, I lament her willingness to make an armchair diagnosis about any person’s kid, especially without their consent or desire for such benevolent inquiries. Within the autism community, we fight against neurotypical stereotypes, and these include “symptoms” others may see for less than thirty seconds. Like fast food, social media gives us a flash of reality and expects us to digest it just as easily as a legitimate source of nourishment.

Instead, I offer to walk with O’Donnell along her autism journey. I invite her to chat with me, and I’m sure she will if motivated. I also call upon her to do some positive things about advocacy. Follow me.

Step One:

Acknowledge social problems experienced by persons living with autism. These include abysmal statistics in unemployment, underemployment, long-term housing, medical insurance coverages, and educational material. Until meaningful accommodations are met, persons with autism will be seen as social bottom-feeders beyond the playground. Will you please address this problem, Ms. O’Donnell?

Step Two:

May I call you “Rosie,” please? All of this “Ms. O’Donnell” language seems far too terse when we speak of compassionate service.

Step Three (This is a BIG One!):

Join me in lifting the autism-community boycott of Autism Speaks. Since the passing of co-founder Suzanne Wright, Autism Speaks seems poised to lead by mindful education. Else, they may feel compelled to return to fear-mongering and perpetuating myths about autism. New leaders deserve a chance – isn’t this what President Obama said? Let’s align ourselves with Autism Speaks as the largest U.S. Autism-centered non-profit organization. Obviously, our boycotts did not work, but we do have their attention. Are we willing to be as accepting of others (including new people who lead Autism Speaks) as we claim we want other people to be of us?

Step Four:

Buy a copy of Face Value Comics. Actually, get it for free, here: http://www.drivethrucomics.com/product/124765/Face-Value-Comics

Two years ago, I opted to remove financial constraints from people interested in our comic book. As the world’s first comic book to explicitly feature a hero with autism, we got a lot of attention. We won international awards and enjoy a world-wide audience. Our inclusion of facial feature recognition earned us a positive review in an accredited medical journal as an educational and therapeutic enterprise; we’re the only comic book to be reviewed in a medical journal, too. Pay what you want.

Step Five:

Please, call me Dave. When I hear “David,” I look for my mother, who is likely going to yell at me for something I (probably) did.

Step Six:

Join us in our grass-roots advocacy. We’re just everyday people, but we self-published a unique comic book. We’ve been on the NBC Nightly News, medical journals, and have spoken to the PA and US Congress about autism as subject-matter experts. We would welcome you to share this advocacy spotlight, because I fatigue easily due to my own health challenges (including autism).

In April 2017, in Philadelphia, we debut our latest comic book for fans. As we finish editing and storyboards, we welcome your input into how autism might be portrayed. We seek clear understandings, and to maintain our family-friendly content. You started a serious conversation- will you continue? Do you need or want our help? Have you ever been to a Comic Book Convention as a fan?

Step Seven:

Continue the conversation. I have other strategies we can discuss about positive autism advocacy and acceptance. I also have several Trump-focused Tweets suitable for sharing, that further push this agenda. Otherwise, fans and myself risk seeing you as a fair-weathered advocate for equality and human rights, choosing how and when to stand up or give up based on convenience. Autism is a life-long diagnosis and challenge; will your advocacy, compassion, and interest extend as far?

My requests may take some time to ponder. Contacting me may take time. Let’s decide to chat again in a week, okay? Rosie – please visit and follow us on Facebook, (https://www.facebook.com/FaceValueComics/?ref=bookmarks) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FaceValueComics), and send us a message.

Be well,

Dave Kot, an adult with autism and co-parent to a lovely young lady with autism

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