Thank You Autism Pioneers
Last year, I was sitting around the dinner table on Thanksgiving day with the extended family. Predictably, my Dad says, “well, what’s everyone thankful for this year.” As we begin to go around the table saying what we are thankful for, I try to think what I will say. I wanted it to be something meaningful and from the heart, but I did not want it to be the usual, I’m thankful for my wife or my kids. Which of course is true, but they know how I feel about them, so I dug a little deeper. Suddenly, it hit me, and it hit me hard as I almost shed a tear when it was my turn. As I was speaking, this wave of emotions hit me. I am sure I didn’t say it as eloquently at the dinner table, but I’d like to think I said it this way. “I am thankful for all the parents that came before us. The ones who paved the way towards treating Ethan’s autism and have helped guide us along the way.”
To the Trailblazing Parents who came before us:
To all the trailblazing parents out there, I thank you! It is because of people like you that we have been able to pursue a path towards healing for our son. You are the pioneers that did not accept what your doctor’s told you. They told you that all you could do for your child was behavior therapy, or they may even have told you that your child was destined to be institutionalized, but you said, “No! There must be something else I can do.” It was your commitment to your own child that led you to uncover ground-breaking research on treatment options for kids with autism. You discovered and sought help from autism organizations like Generation Rescue (GR), the Autism Research Institute (ARI), Age of Autism, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA), and the National Autism Alliance (NAA). You found doctors in-the-know that helped you treat your children. These docs helped your children’s conditions improve or even completely go away. Despite your child’s improvement and the tremendous stresses of raising a child with autism, you have enough strength and resolve to spread the word. You are just as committed to helping other parents, like myself, heal their children. The monthly support groups you run inspire and support us. You reassure and encourage us through your participation in support groups on Facebook where you offer advice, answer questions, and lend a virtual shoulder to cry on. The weekly coffee talks you plan and organize help guide many new parents toward the path of hope and healing. You are truly Warrior Parents, and you deserve to be recognized. I’m not going to name those that lifted me up and helped guide me as there are far too many to mention. There are even more whom I will never have the pleasure of meeting. You know who you are, and from the bottom of my heart, Thank You. When you started your journey, there was no path. You were faced with thick brush, giant mountains, and rivers to cross. Thank you for having the courage to climb those mountains, build bridges, and carve a path through the thick brush for us to follow.
Thank You Pioneers in Autism Research
While I am thanking trailblazers in the autism community, I want to take a moment to thank the remarkable scientists and doctor’s who were the first to spearhead ground-breaking research in the treatment of autism. From the “godfather” of biomedical treatment, the late Dr Bernard Rimland debunked the “refrigerator mother” theory and dedicated his life to finding the cause of his son’s autism. Dr Sidney Baker who has spent his long career studying autism and helping treat children with autism. Even after 5 decades, Dr. Baker remains committed to the cause. I also want to thank the men and women who have taken the reigns and continue to look for answers. Doctor’s like Dr. Theoharis C. Theoharides who has been studying mast cells in the brain and Dr. Ernesto Gutierrez who is investigating the use of stem cells to treat autism. Thank you for being innovators and discovering fascinating and promising new opportunities for our children. I also want to send a special thank you to the doctors on the front lines. People like Dr Jerry Kartzinel, Dr Dan Rossignol, and Dr Anju Usman have earned my sincerest appreciation. These are only a few of the hundreds of docs around the world who put their careers and livelihoods on the line everyday to help our kids. We parents like to call ourselves warrior parents, and we wear that tag proudly. I think it’s time we give you brilliant and brave people that title as well. Despite the endless threat of litigation, legal battles, and even public ridicule you continue to fight for our kids. To the Warrior Doctors Thank You for your commitment and dedication to the cause.
Thank You for Bringing Us All Together
Finally, I have one last thanks. Thank You to the wonderful organizations for providing amazing resources for parents. I have learned so much from the conferences hosted by Generation Rescue. TACA introduces new parents with experienced mentors in their area, and the NAA has helped keep our son safe through their Big Red Safety Box program. There are many other amazing organizations too many to list here, but they all deserve our thanks as well. They keep us informed of the latest research, connect parents with doctors, provide support and inspiration, and help guide us parents throughout our journey. Thank You for making the battle a little easier.
So Much To Be Thankful For
We’ve gotten so much support from so many different parents and organizations, and we’ve had the great opportunity to meet some of the brilliant minds behind the past and current research. We’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some of the eclectic personalities of the autism community. We have so much to be thankful for this year, but I guess I’ll have to figure out something new to say this year at Thanksgiving dinner.