Last Wednesday was World Autism Day. It also coincided with a visit from my childhood friend who was traveling home with her son after a long stay at the Ronald McDonald house.
I planned to write an informative- let’s change the world- post about autism and childhood cancer. But over the past week I’m finding myself asking more questions than I have answers.
Although I have an autistic niece and nephew, several friends with autistic children, and my good friend’s son has cancer, I will never proclaim to understand their daily routines and lives.
What I do know, though, is that these parents are the rock stars of parenting.
I re-realized that my worries are essentially irrelevant. While I’m concerned about packing enough snacks and clean uniforms, my friend has a cache of medications for her son’s pain and chemo related sores.
It’s now said that 1 out of 68 children is diagnosed with autism. Chances are, then, you will know someone who’s life if affected by autism. Causes are debated (often heatedly), and -as of now- there is no cure.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, 1 out of 285 kids will be diagnosed with cancer before age 19. My friend’s son was 10.
So how do we help these families and these children, especially as they grow into adults?
We certainly aren’t doing enough now. Childhood cancer research funding is barely a fraction of what’s spent on various adult cancers. And, most autism assistance ends when the kids are 16. Then what?
Yes, there are fabulous community organizations like Connection of Friends and Ronald McDonald House.
What if…50% of campaign funds raised went toward childhood cancer research and special needs assistance?
What if…Monsanto used their unlimited resources for improving our environment & food supply instead of poisoning it?
What if…the salaries for pro athletes and teachers switched?
What if…volunteer work were a high school requirement instead of standardized testing?
What if…local restaurants provided school lunches?
What if…schools had their own garden?
What if…5% of sporting event ticket prices paid for families to stay at the Ronald McDonald house for free?
What if…congress had to pay the same medical insurance as Americans?
What if…alternative therapies received equal research funding as drug companies?
What if…every member of congress were required transfer their “perks” for a year to a family whose child has cancer, autism, or special needs?
What’s your “What if…”
How do we make them a reality?