By Lisa Ackerman
Many families living with autism are FRUSTRATED that not much is seemingly being done to help the autism cause. As a parent, I am in agreement. After being on this journey for almost 14 years, it’s sad to see the lack of progress made in this area. There just seems to be more people affected, fewer resources to offer help, and no end in sight.
You may have thought, if autism affects 1 in every 50 kids (1.) that means there would have to be a lot of celebrities, congressional representatives or other well known, high-profile figures that have kids with autism. Your assumption is correct. There are a lot of famous people with kids affected by autism. I know, as I have met some of them. They are parents like you and me who have needed to reach out to us for help as well.
I have always wondered – why don’t celebrities and famous people help? The answer is complex.
Issues that affect children can be extremely challenging. Your job as a parent is to protect and help your child be the best they can be. When your child has a disability, it doesn’t matter WHO you are – the process can be debilitating. Add this emotion with also being constantly viewed under a “microscope”. People who have a high profile are subject to a lot of attention. It is the nature of their “job.” Many kids born to celebrities don’t ask for this attention. Such attention could really lend itself to children being a victim of horrific assaults in the media or worse. I understand why people who are famous don’t want to be involved. Their child needs to be protected.
Most parents of children with autism are not famous; they don’t have cameras in their faces wherever they go. They live their lives without fame (or money!!)
Our famous, high-profile friends often live in a fish bowl. People can see everything they do – even things they don’t want to disclose.
When a celebrity steps out to help a cause, it is a pretty fantastic thing. We have many famous friends who have helped TACA. It is equally fantastic when someone also wants to help without even having a child affected by autism. We really appreciate everyone’s efforts to assist in creating more awareness.
When you meet or read about high-profile people who have a child with autism, don’t judge them for their effort (or in your opinion, their lack of effort). Their journey is completely different.
Autism is the least funded disability in America affecting the most children. I hope someday, more brave souls step forward to help. Instead of chiding these celebrities, let’s coax them into action that will make a big difference for families and individuals living with autism.