In response to Suzanne Wright’s Autism Speaks Call for Action Op-ed

I know full well the emotional, physical and financial cost that lurks front and center, as well as behind the scenes of autism. My father, daughter, Liane Holliday Willeycousin’s children and cousin’s cousin’s children have some form of autism. So do I. Not one of us, nor any of the tens of thousands of people I have interacted with from all over the world through the past decade and a half would describe our children or our autistic friends in the terms you do, Mrs. Wright. We too wish for more support, better futures, a fine moral response to our challenges, but we wish for this plan to be seen from a place of hope and promise, of recognition of the things that are possible and grand when autism is part of our plan. I and countless others, wish for a plan that focuses on our strengths, not our fears nor our weaknesses. Yes, we need financial support for therapies and counsel and comfort just as anyone who has a challenge before them does. However, please change your rhetoric from “those who can’t or won’t” to “those who can and will.

Please see our community as an asset, not as a forlorn and strangling liability. We are assets that may well need hands held out for assistance toward our goals and abilities, but we are not (and please read this with emphasis) in need of hands held up to block us with the message that implies “You people with autism are nothing much more than a burden on us and until you are reprogrammed to be just like everyone else, we cannot tolerate the toll you put on the rest of us.

Your commitment toward helping people with autism live safe and secure lives, is to be applauded. Your commitment to the belief that the autistic community is a community built on crisis rather than promising possibilities, is deplorable.

Liane Holliday Willey, EdD. Author and Autism Adovcate


Liane Holliday-Willey is the author of Safety Skills for Asperger Women, Pretending to be Normal, Asperger Syndrome in the Family and Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. For more information on Dr. Holliday Willey, please visit or tweet her at aspie101.

One thought

  1. With all due respect, when someone can communicate as well as you do in this post, it is mind-blowing to me how you can even begin to comment on Suzanne Wright’s feeling and statements as if your situation/disability bears ANY similarity to her family’s circumstances and her grandson’s disability. I look forward to the day when the medical community has a gearter understanding of the brain — so that the word “autism” isn’t used to group together people who have as much in common as Cher and George W. Bush.

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