Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm Not a One Issue Voter. Not Even for Autism.

OpinionI ran this at today. Obama made a comment about not being for "selective vaccination" at an event on Friday night and the poopstorm has begun. There are more and more vaccine mandates coming down the pike, and those of us who have kids who've had reactions are concerned. We want vaccination choice. Is there any such thing as the perfect candidate? I don't think so. And here's my take on it:

Boy, the posts and the comments about the candidates have been flying fast and furious here at Age of Autism. I'd thought I'd steer clear of commentary, but that's sort of what I do, isn't it? So here I am, putting my opinion out there for you to, er, enjoy. I could say this in two sentences: I'm not a one issue voter. Not even this time around. Of course, it's far more fun to expound.

I'm worried about the cost of heating my home this winter and that my parents' budget payment for oil has doubled since last year while their income has been eaten alive by overall inflation. I wonder will Mark and I ever be able to afford anything close to the house we had to sell 3 three years ago when autism and unemployment joined forces and almost bankrupted us. I wonder if healthcare will ever include my kids for real so that I can get speech and OT and PT and biomedical treatments for them. We pay $12,000 out of pocket for insurance premiums and get precious little in return. The current autism insurance legislation in my homestate of CT does a big fat nothing for my kids. My husband's company is self-insured, which makes them exempt from having to include autism coverage.

I worry about current and future wars and terrorism and saber rattling. I worry that the tall guy in the cave is laughing at us while women in Pakistan (our ally!) are buried alive for protesting their arranged marriages. During which time we're spending billions in the general vicinity, but haven't found that cave. Or made life better for those women.

I worry about the familiar chill emanating from halfway around the world in a country that reminds me of tall fur hats and vodka. I think about Supreme Court justices retiring and what that might mean for my three daughters who, as women with autism, might face sexual assault and unplanned pregnancy. (That thought makes me want to gulp a glass of vodka.)

I lament that my little brother, who has had a faithful partner for over sixteen years and is an honest, law abiding, tax paying citizen of America, has no legal rights for his loving relationship and is considered a second (or worse) class citizen by many. I also worry about having a government that even considers mandating health care choices for me and my family. And that includes vaccination mandates, which I am against. Then I worry about what having a leader who wants to teach creationism in public schools means for our education system

I worry that some Americans actually think that voting for a woman whose birth canal is as busy as the Panama Canal automatically means she'll advocate for every child in America. I worry that having a child with a clear cut genetic difference for which there is prenatal testing is so different from having a vaccine injured child that the two worlds will never approach science in the same way. I worry that we'll drill for a whopping ten barrels of oil in a pristine state instead of making national sacrifices and cutting back and then putting American ingenuity to work on solutions to our energy needs. We have 3% of the world's oil reserves and yet we use over 25% of the world's oil. (T. Boone Pickens says so.) Even if you can't count back millions of years into evolution, you should be able to see that the math of drilling in Alaska is false campaign promise of energy security.

My God, how am I not popping Paxil like Certs? I worry a lot!

I'm definitely not a one issue voter. That said, I am looking for the candidate who tells me (s)he will look at all possible causes of autism, including our vaccination program, even if that means a shift in our public health policy, because my kids are as important as the proverbial herd. And who will help me treat my kids' autism right now. But that candidate might only exist in my dreams. So I'll have to vote for the candidate who meets the other urgent requirements on my list.

I have to have enough financial security to tend to my own flock - I need a strong economy for that. And I want to know who will help me take care of my girls throughout their lifetimes. I'm not looking for a government handout - but the reality of autism is that few parents, if any, will be able to finance the care many of our children will need and still support themselves in some sort of retirement. I think taking care of disabled Americans is as important as bailing out Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (And maybe Lehman later this week from what I'm hearing.)

I'm worried that foreclosures among senior citizens, once our most financially conservative and sound demographic, are up 125% this year as they struggle with stagnant income, anemic interest rates and skyrocketing costs of living.

Senator McCain or Obama, Senator Biden or Governor Palin, can you ease a mother's mind that when I die, my children will not be left to the mercy to a patchwork system that doesn't know what to do or make of people with autism? My kids don't HAVE bootstraps. Autism has robbed them of the ability to care for themselves. (Dammit, now I need a Paxil and a tissue.

Even worse, now I've got this horrible song running through my head. And I'm afraid no such thing exists.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. She doesn't actually take Paxil, although coffee and chocolate are daily requirements for sanity.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
I agree with a lot of your post. Although I want Sen. Obama to revisit the issue of mandatory vaccination, I also want to know if he has even addressed the issue of self-insured plans ability to exclude benefits for developmental disabilities. Has he proposed amending ERISA, the federal legislation that governs these plans. Before I worried about casein, gluten and mercury, I was an ERISA attorney. ERISA and its regulations are amended almost annually - why can't this injustice be corrected. He can respectfully disagree with our position on vaccinations and still advocate for our children's rights to healthcare.

The Anti-Wife said...

Your concerns are valid and well voiced. I hope many, if not all of them can be addressed by our next president.

Petra said...

Hey Kim - really enjoyed this piece of yours. Well done!!! (and I'm with you on the caffeine and chocolate).

The guy on AoA that took offense to your *Panama Canal* comment needs a life. That line of yours was hilarious (and no, it wasn't vulgar. The vulgar version would have gone quite differently).

Funny, I always thought too that I was going to have 4 kids (and considering my families track record, I would have had at least one set of twins). Let's just say that that won't be happening in THIS life time ....

Cyndi said...

"a woman whose birth canal is as busy as the Panama Canal" need to win an award for coming up with that one!

Kim Stagliano said...

It was either that or rhyme Vagina and Red China and even I couldn't go THERE. LOL! It was one of my better lines. And I really offended one reader. I could have taken the rest of the day off at that point. :)

GFCF Mommy said...

Great post, Kim. I really admire your honesty, humor and intelligence.

Can you use your press credentials and get into some "town meeting" or something and represent all of us by asking all the questions you lay out!

You are so clear-minded and such a great writer. Your comment about your daughters and the pro-choice issue really moved me.

Your brother sounds like a great buy too!


Kim Stagliano said...

Thanks! Is Richard for SALE? (Teasing, you typed, great "buy" instead of "guy." Tee hee! I'm trying to get in touch with Obama's media team - trust me. It ain't easy. And I'm not the NYT or even the Wasilla Whatever.

Amanda said...

All this talk of what are you going to do matches my fears for my girls here in the UK and at least we have the NHS to provide a lot of services that you have to pay for. What's getting my goat BIG STYLE is how the UK government focus on physical disability. Now the law says all new houses (including my SIL's house on 4 floors) has to have space to install stair lifts, all the electrics and door handles have to be accessible from wheel chair height - the list go on - but NOT ONE element covers any other problem than being in a wheelchair. The Para-Olympics gets news cover - the special Olympics gets nothing - and we did pretty amazingly there too. Under the Motorbility scheme (provides cars to people entitled to the highest rate of mobility element of disability living allowance) damage by loading/unloading a wheel chair is not penalised at the end of the 3 year contract but damage for example by a person kicking off because they can't cope with an event IS.

To say there is a two tier system does not come close. For some reason wheel chair users have been singled out for special treatment and it really REALLY gets to me. They are such a small minority of the disabled community. Yes, they have difficulties but they are no more important than the deaf person, the blind person, and the learning disabled.

Amanda said...

Oh, loved the piece by the way - forgot to say that, too busy ranting!!

Laura said...

Kim, I feel the same way! It's easy to get sucked into the "what will Candidate X do for autism?" when it's been coming up so much on various forums lately (even the non-political ones have been quite political). But, even though autism is a huge part of my life, it's not the only part. If there were a candidate promising to find the cause and cure for autism, but he/she were anti-choice, didn't believe in global warming or equal rights for ALL humans (which I consider gay rights to be - equal rights as humans -- why should a gay person have to settle for living with a partner for years and not have the benefits of marriage?) I could not in good faith vote for him/her. I won't vote for a candidate just because she's a woman, either. No, I vote with the organ behind my ears, rather than the one between my legs.

It would be nice to find that magical candidate who fits all of my criteria (there's a long list!), but if I find one whose stances are the same as mine most of the time, I'll be more than happy to see that person elected. I almost wish we could fast-forward to November right now, though!

And I for one would love to hear that vagina/red China rhyme!

Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello Kim,

You've raised some very important concerns. I'm not a single issue voter myself.

Your remark about Sarah Palin's birth canal actually offended at least two readers - including me. In the context of a serious political essay, it's a disgusting ad hominem - and from a woman who has more than half the children Governor Palin does, no less. It's far below the level I've come to expect from you.

Jeff Deutsch

PS: What's wrong with having many children, anyway - especially when we'll need a new generation to work to bolster whatever provisions (be they Social Security, disability benefits, investments or whatever) you've made for your old age and your daughters' care?