Thursday, October 16, 2008

Let the Backlash Begin...

It turns out people do watch these debates -- and pay attention when a candidate makes misleading comments like McCain's Wednesday night. The blogosphere is buzzing, and I'll give you just a sample of what I'm seeing.

In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Janet Takehara, a mother of a 21-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome calls McCain's claim that Palin knows more than "almost any American I know" about special needs "condescending, offensive, and frightening."

Charles Fox, writing in his Special Ed Law Blog, says, "It is wrong at this late date to shill yourself as a champion for the vulnerable populations of children with autism, when he has no record to speak of before now. Senator Obama and for that matter Senator Clinton have taken affirmative positions on funding and supporting efforts for children with autism. Children with special needs, whether those with Downs or autism or cerebral palsy or any other disability, are not emblems to be held up for political gain....If Senator McCain's voting record with President Bush was not enough to disqualify him for the presidency, then his use of children with special needs as a political tool certainly rules him out once and for all."

In the Huffington Post, Janet Grillo, a former board member at Cure Autism Now, writes, "My Autistic Son is Not a Political Pawn." While McCain claims he would support autism research, he wants to freeze all government spending. And his offer of a $5,000 tax deduction for health care won't go far to meet her son's annual $90,000 of services. "Thank God that California state-funded regional center services have absorbed the lion's share of those costs. But, as everyone knows, California is now bankrupt. Those services have been frozen. Children and parents are floundering." Sen. Obama, she says, "was right to tell the American people that this essential work will cost money.... Piece meal tax rebates will not cover health costs for our families, as they contend with this lifelong neurological disability. Tonight, John McCain told us that Governor Palin 'knows more about autism than any other American I know.' Perhaps he should get out more."

At DailyKos, "expatyank" describes his 18-year journey with a son with autism. The title of his piece summarizes his views pretty well -- "McCain's Autism Pander: And Why This Parent/Professional is Disgusted." In addition to sharing his personal story (in great detail), he examines the candidates' policies, contrasting McCain's singular focus on research and children with Obama's comprehensive policies. "Obama doesn't stop there. He calls for "treatment, screenings, public awareness, and support services, opportunities and effective solutions for people with ASD, independent living, life-long services for people with ASD, and full federal funding of IDEA (special education)."

In his blog, health researcher John Feighery, asks "Which Candidate is a Friend to Special Needs Children?" Writing from his personal experience, he says, "We need an advocate who knows about our difficulties and has a plan to make things better. Based on my research, Obama will be the kind of advocate we need. I understand if you are suspicious about pledges from a candidate during an election and wonder how all these plans will be paid for considering the current state of the economy. But if Obama can enact just a few of his proposals, we'll clearly be better off than we are now."

Feel free to send me other opinions you think people should see.
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