Autism Isn't Just My Problem, Doug Ford. It's Yours, Too

Keep Special Needs Kids Out Of My Backyard

Autism Isn't Just My Problem, Doug Ford. It's Yours, Too

doug ford autism

If it's not one Ford brother, it's the other. Seriously it's like a tag team of cringe. Doug is currently grabbing headlines while his more famous brother—disgraced mayor Rob—visits rehab via cottage country.

When the city councillor isn't busy defending his brother, he's bemoaning the existence of an Etobicoke residential centre for people with development disabilities. Ford is appealing to have the Griffin Centre relocated. As in, Not in my backyard, thanks...

"You can't destroy a community like this. People have worked 30 years for their home..." said Ford. "My heart goes out to kids with autism. But no one told me they’d be leaving the house."

Unfortunately his 'Not My Problem' attitude is telling and not uncommon. 

This brand of thinking leads not only to precious funding and job cuts, it in itself leads to the destruction of communities and the hardening of hearts.

If developmental services are in crisis, then it's not just my problem, it's society's problem. So claims Donna Thomson, author of The Four Walls of My Freedom and advocate for her son Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy.

Toronto Mayoral candidate John Tory nailed it when he said that Doug's comments hail from another age—one in which people with disabilities were best kept out of sight and out of mind:

"Today, we know what is best for us and best for [people with disabilities] is to include them in every possible way—at school and in our community," wrote Tory. "For Doug Ford to express surprise that kids with autism would 'be leaving the house' is incredibly out of touch and insensitive."

Conditions like autism are pervasive. There will come a time in the not-so-distant future when everyone—yes, even the Fords—will be directly affected by a developmental disorder. What will happen when someone Doug loves gets diagnosed and struggles to gain support? Heaven forbid. 

My heart goes out to Doug Ford—and his incorrigible brother for that matter. No one told me they would open their mouths. And here I am, still waiting for something nice to come out.

Got autism? Better have deep pockets. 

Image credit: Flickr | HiMY SYeD

Join the Purina Walk for Dog Guides

Dogs rule!

Join the Purina Walk for Dog Guides

Dogs are amazing creatures. Service dogs, doubly so. Not only do dogs make loving and loyal family members, they are literally life-changing—and in some cases, life-saving—for people with special needs. 

We've all heard of 'seeing eye' dogs for the visually and hearing impaired, but did you know that these remarkable four-legged friends also assist people with physical disabilities, seizures, diabetes, and even autism? 

Since 1983, the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides (LFCDG) has been providing working dogs at no cost to the Canadians who need them. That's more than 2,000 dogs and around $25,000 to raise and put each puppy through a rigorous training program. 

You may surprised (or not) to discover that the Lions Foundation receives no government funding whatsoever and relies solely on fundraising and donations. 

Held on Sunday, 25th May, this year's Purina Walk for Dog Guides will raise much-needed funds to help provide dog guides to Canadians with special needs.

Everyone (and every canine!) is welcome to take part, regardless of age, fitness level. 

To walk or simply donate, please visit the website or call 1 (800) 768-3030 for details.


Would You Be Ok With A Family That's Not Normal Like Mine?

Learning to love difference

Would You Be Ok With A Family That's Not Normal Like Mine?


I have a beef with the n-word.

No, not that one, although it too sickens me. I'm talking about the word 'normal.' It doesn't fit my son, and quite frankly it has never fit me, either. Suffice to say, my grasp on normal is pretty tenuous. 

From the moment my baby was born—thanks to a plethora of parenting books and websites—like many new moms I became hyper-conscious of norms and developmental milestones which I tracked meticulously. 

I panicked when my little guy was late to crawl and again when he didn't have enough words at his 15-month check-up. He caught up just fine. 

Then came his autism diagnosis, and all those milestones were thrown out with the bath water. Comparing him to typical children was heart-wrenching. Even comparing him to other kids on the spectrum felt pointless. (As the cliche goes, meeting one kid with autism is meeting one kid with autism.)

It's been a process, but I am slowly coming to appreciate my son's individuality. His one-of-a-kindness. If we hope for any kind of autonomy for our kids in the future, parents should nurture a special interest since it can help further career and life prospects. So says autism advocate Temple Grandin, and this approach certainly made her the success she is today.

Of course my son has to learn how to interact with people if he is to get along in the world, yet he is at his happiest and most fulfilled when he is pursuing his special interest. (Right now, at age five, that means teaching himself Russian via YouTube videos. This is him below singing and making the русский алфавит out of Play-Doh.) 

His enthusiasm is contagious. His mind, a marvel. At times I admit it would be more straightforward if he just raced Hot Wheels around the house and learned how to play hockey. But that wouldn't be him. By extension, that wouldn't be us. And I have to say—normal be damned—I love the us that we have become.

Do share: what does your 'normal' look like?

Doctors predicted this boy would never read or walk. Bet they're eating their words now. 

Image credit: Flickr | Peter Becker