Category Archives: Rosie O’Donnell

Why we’re angry, dear Rosie…

Dear Ms. Rosie O’Donnell:

More than a week passed since we last chatted, albeit one-sided, about autism advocacy. Our fans wish you roaring success with your upcoming performance, and hope you are well. If people read anything more recent about you, I think many would be alarmed by the outpouring of hate directed at you regarding your armchair diagnosis of Barron Trump. We needn’t add fuel to that fire. Instead, I’m offering insight as a fellow rights activist and (self) advocate.

If people are angered by your lack of credentials to offer a diagnosis, I think their anger is misplaced. If people dislike you because of your own open identity, we aren’t likely to solve homophobia in this blog post. More importantly, I’m not sure you – or anyone who flippantly diagnoses someone with autism – understands the real damage.

You betrayed us, Rosie.

Within the autism community, many of us struggle with implied, unwritten social cues. However, most of us grew up and learned about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Rosie, you broke that rule.

Spin your dialogue. Would you appreciate someone from the autism community saying another person was obviously gay because of how they look for thirty seconds? Even if that person’s experience and vigilance within the LGBTQ community would lend some credit to observations, is it anyone else’s right to out them as gay? If this approach is not okay with you, why is it okay for you to do something similar?

Hypervigilance with your own daughter’s autism diagnosis may lend you small credit, to recognize symptoms. Being good at computer work or mathematics makes someone autistic as much as (insert LGBTQ stereotype, here) makes someone gay. We fight hard to correct social misperceptions; please don’t add more misdirection.

We could presume you have nothing but benevolence towards a man and his family. Refresh my memory: is this the same man and his family whom you battled on Twitter during the Presidential Election this year? Do you doubt Barron Trump will have the absolute best medical care as the son of the United States President-Elect? Do you think you know better than a physician, Rosie? You act like you do.

…and that’s why people feel anger. May I offer a solution? Tweet how your intentions were born from compassion for a young person. Start a discussion about his father’s lack of understanding about autism, and the need for more openly autistic legislators and representatives. Share how you may have mourn(ed) Dakota’s lost potential following an autism diagnosis; we’ll understand and work through this very common grief with you. Invite more advocates to work with you, and stop making our advocacy work harder in 140 characters or less.

Let’s have tea next week, okay?

Be well and break a leg,

Dave Kot

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