The tough slog of autism awareness

Woman tells her neighbour to euthanize her autistic grandson



Every year, Mike Lake stands in the House of Commons on World Autism Awareness Day and talks about his son, Jaden. Lake is a Conservative MP from Edmonton, and his tributes routinely draw rousing ovations from all sides of the chamber. He always flashes a glance up to Jaden, sitting in the gallery above the Commons. Every time, the moment is wonderful.

On those days, autism isn’t controversial or misunderstood or scary. When we hear from people who live with autistic children, when we hear from their parents, we know those kids deserve all the same love as any other child.

All that optimism and awareness dissolves, just for a few moments, when you read the Canadian Press story about Brenda Millson and her 13-year-old grandson, Max. Millson lives in Newcastle, Ont., and Max lives with his family in Oshawa. He visited Newcastle, as a good grandson would do, and a neighbour didn’t so much enjoy his presence. In a letter to Millson, the neighbour complained of “noise polluting whaling” that scared her “normal children.” In a flourish, she demanded a chilling ultimatum: “do the right thing and move or euthanize him.”

As you might expect, Millson forwarded the letter to local authorities. If there’s any consolation, the letter writer—whomever they were—spawned an outpouring of support for Max. On Sunday, 120 people crowded the area outside Millson’s home. They came from as far away as Oshawa, according to CP.

So, as it turns out, not everybody understands autism. That won’t stop people like Mike Lake, who will be back on his feet in the House on next year’s autism awareness day, nor will it stop the families who cared enough to pay Max a comforting visit on a summer night.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s planned prorogation of Parliament, which will delay the next sitting in the House of Commons until October. The National Post fronts Egypt’s emerging status as the most dangerous place in the Middle East. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the second-degree murder charge laid against Toronto police officer James Forcillo, in connection with the shooting death of Sammy Yatim. The Ottawa Citizen leads with opposition claims that Harper’s delaying the return of Parliament unjustifiably. iPolitics fronts a profile of Chris Simpson, who will become president of the Canadian Medical Association today. CBC.ca leads with Forcillo’s apparent plans to surrender to authorities today. CTV News leads with former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf’s arrest in connection with the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. National Newswatch showcases a Toronto Star story that looks at Senator Pamela Wallin’s lavish expense claims while she served as Canada’s consul general to New York City.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Mercy killing. Health Minister Rona Ambrose said that despite a rekindled debate about euthanasia in Canada, the feds won’t entertain the notion of legalizing the controversial practice. 2. Carbon pricing. Privy Council Office records from 2011 suggest that, at the time, senior government officials were recommending Canada support “putting a price on carbon.”
3. Flooding. Alberta Premier Alison Redford says the final cost of the flood damage earlier this year will top $5 billion, a cost that will be shared by the province and the federal government. 4. Expo. Toronto wants to host a World’s Fair, and Mayor Rob Ford is appealing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to postpone Canada’s withdrawal from the Bureau International des Expositions.
5. Shipping. A Chinese ship bound for The Netherlands will not traverse the Suez Canal, the traditional route, and instead take a faster route through Arctic waters for the first time ever. 6. India. A train killed at least 37 people in eastern India when it passed through a station in Patna with Hindu pilgrims on the tracks. Protesters beat the train’s driver and burned train cars.

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The tough slog of autism awareness

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  3. Oh dear god yet another article that makes it seem like all of us on the spectrum are children. Autism is a lifelong disorder and guess what? Children on the spectrum grow up to be adults who have to explain to people that we aren’t all 8. I’m also tired of all the images of children who are white and male. I don’t care about autism from the perspective of people who live with autistic children, I care about actual autistics, and most of us can and deserve to be heard. I suppose the fact I’m even able to type a response challenges the stereotypes your neurotypical “awareness” campaigns promotes.

    • “I don’t care about autism from the perspective of people who live with autistic children”

      BARF. How nice for you that you don’t give a damn about the people who love you, look after you (until you can do it yourself) and who sacrifice everything to get you there.

      Yeah, it would be nice to hear some more stories from people who are actually autistic. But that doesn’t have to be at the expense of these stories. How about IN ADDITION TO?

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