April Is Autism Month

Being as how April is autism month and being as how there was no such thing when PJ was younger, I feel compelled to mark this month with autism activities. After all, I am so old that I don’t know how many more Aprils I have left to be able to get out and about.  I feel that I should be trying to sell books, raise money for the foundation and help with  awareness although there is far more awareness now because there are so many more people with autism. When PJ was younger, autism did not even have its own medical category. We had to  petition the legislature to get autism a separate category.

On April 2, we had the PJ Foundation skating party at Northland Roller Rink. The weekend of April 13th, I was a part of the Spring Book Festival at Laurel Park Place Mall in Livonia, MI.  A group of authors were there with our books. None of us sold much, so mostly it was us talking to each other about our books. We did a lot of mall walking also. I was determined not to shop, but did look around in the stores.

Another PJ Foundation event was held on Sunday, April 22 at Bistro 555 in the Greektown Casino Hotel. Many supporters showed up and we had great food and a chance to touch bases with each other. The hotel was very generous in giving prizes for our raffle.

I was a vendor at the Living With Autism event at the Marriott Hotel in Troy, MI.  The event is presented annually by Metro Parent Magazine and Henry Ford Health System. Of all the people there, I had been “living with autism” the longest since PJ is now 36 years old.

The guest speaker was  Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.  Mr. Calley has a daughter with autism and is credited with  helping to get autism  insurance reform passed and signed into law in the state of Michigan. This change has been attempted many times, but did not succeed.  It took someone who lives with a child handicapped by autism to know how badly reform was needed. Sadly, it is too late for PJ to benefit from this new law. I hope that it works out well for the rest of you. Let me know.

The keynote speaker was Holly Robinson Peete, an actress who became the parent of  twins. One of the twins , her  son, R.J.  has autism. She and his twin sister, Ryan, wrote a children’s book together.  The book, “My Brother, Charlie” was written to help teach tolerance and understanding for those who have autism. After her speaking presentation, she signed copies of  their book.  Her husband, former Detroit Lion, Rodney Peete has also written a book about autism from a father’s perspective.

There was a long line of people waiting to get their book signed, (me included). As I looked at  all the people in line, I clearly saw the difference between Holly’s autism activism and mine. Holly is an eagle, flying everywhere and I am a chicken, confined to the barnyard, relegated to chicken feed. I hope I live long enough for my status to change.

I can’t believe that I am still speaking out about autism or caring about a status change. I thought that I had retired from autism activism.  There is something about having a son who cannot talk that keeps me motivated to open my mouth and to try to be a part of the solution.

Until next time I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures:  They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles… Isaiah 40:31

Claudreen Jackson



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