Sunday, October 23, 2016

She's with me

I could say that I am voting for Hillary Clinton because I am a liberal Democrat.   

I could say that I am voting for Hillary Clinton because I voted for Bernie Sanders, and now she is the Democratic party nominee.

I could say that I am voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman, but I have had reservations because Hillary doesn’t fit into my ideal first woman President.   

All these statements are true and reflect the conflict I have had in choosing to vote for Secretary Clinton.   
I am a reader and a researcher by nature.  Whenever there is a question in my life, whenever I have had doubts about how to deal with a subject, I have spent a good deal of time learning about every aspect of the issue.   

When Hillary Clinton became the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, I knew that the reservations I felt needed to be researched out so that I did not have any doubts regarding my choice.  I wanted to sort through the facts and the fictions.  

What was so different about this research, for me, was that I thought I knew Ms. Clinton.  I had voted for Bill Clinton, I had watched Hillary struggle to be heard about health care.  I remembered the start of the bi-partisan attacks and the real and imagined scandals.  I remembered the First Lady, vaguely knew the Senator, and thought I knew the Secretary of State.   

As time had gone on, I had only seen Hillary Clinton in my periphery.  I knew that the Right had continued their attacks on her and her husband, but I really did not notice what she was doing, how she was trying to enact changes in ways that she has been doing since she started in public service.  

Discovery is one of the most extraordinarily profound by-products of research.  In going back to research Hillary Clinton anew, I realized that somehow, in a way, she was looking out for my singular and personal interests for a long time. 

One of Hillary Clinton's first jobs out of law school was with the Children’s Defense Fund in the state I now live, Massachusetts, and one of her first tasks was going door-to-door to figure out why so many children were missing school. She found that many parents were not sending their children to school because schools did not accommodate disabilities. The evidence she gathered was presented to Congress, and it helped build the case for the passage of the law that ensures all children with disabilities have access to school. As First Lady, she brought awareness and fought for funding for autism, including supporting the bipartisan Children’s Health Act of 2000, which focused on autism research. In the Senate, she introduced the bipartisan Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism. 

We first knew there was something not quite right when our son started Kindergarten.  You know it isn't good if, after three weeks, the Kindergarten teacher wants a parent/teacher conference.  They were worried about his safety, mainly.  He would get up during class and start to wander.  At one point, he left the classroom and went out to inspect the workings of the elevator.   "How do you motivate him?" "Does he exhibit outbursts at home?"  "Perhaps he should have behavioral therapy?"   
By the time he was in third grade, we had the first of many diagnoses.  He had ADHD and Social Pragmatics issues.   
“Every kid with a disability has the right to go to school,” Hillary Clinton said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention. “But how do you make an idea like that real? You do it step-by-step, year-by-year… sometimes even door-by-door.” 
My son has been through behavioral therapy, social skills groups, neurological tests of all shapes and sizes, Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) and 504s.  My son went through the public school system, but through the special education system and with the help of laws and programs that Hillary Clinton helped to put in place, he was able to continue to not only be educated, but also stay in classrooms with his friends and peers.   

By the end of Middle School, we had a diagnosis that fit all the behaviors and issues.  My son has High Functioning Aspergers, now know as High Functioning Autism. 
A teenager's hormones and autism do not always mix that well together.  He had a really tough time transitioning to High School.  The number of calls from the school about tantrums and outbursts, altercations with other students and just disruptive behavior as a whole increased to a nerve-wreaking level. 

During this whole process, we had been our son's advocates, being there for the countless meetings at school regarding how to help our son achieve his goals.  Finally, my son hurting like he had never before, we had an outside advocate come in to help us to navigate the process of having him out-placed to a private school which assists children with autism and similar disabilities. 
Through the Special Education Department in Massachusetts, we were able to have our son go to a wonderful program, where he has thrived.  He is now a senior in High School, looking forward to graduating and going to college.   

We have gotten through a lot tough times, we are stronger and better for it.  However, the challenges facing my son are now going to be even more complex, as we look to having him be able to live on his own, interact with people in the larger society, hold down a job, and essentially be as independent as he can be, given the obstacles he still needs to overcome. 

Hillary Clinton is also trying to look towards the future of autistic and other disabled individuals.   
Amongst her policy and statement issues on health care and education programs, she has proposed an Autism Plan that focuses on support programs for autistic people, including improving employment opportunities and housing availability.  This article from the Guardian from January 2016, points out that: 

"Her plan focuses on necessary and sorely needed support programs for autistic people: improving employment opportunities and housing availability, significantly limiting the use of physical restraints, guaranteeing access to assistive communication technology for people who are nonverbal or have difficulty with spoken language and a specific call to do research on adult autism prevalence and needs. These issues are of vital importance to autistic people and our loved ones. No other major US presidential candidate has made these issues a part of his or her political platform."   

So, in the end, the major reason I am voting for Hillary Clinton is because I am a Special Needs mother.  I see a kindred spirit in this strong woman, who has fought for disabled people, giving them and their families voices.  She is strong because she has had to fight through tough times, trying to get her voice heard.  Secretary Clinton researches the heck out of an issue, and tries to find solutions  My son has a place in her world.  The time and energy she has spent over the years working for disabilities and autism in particular, has made me not only want to vote for her, but respect her.


1 comment:

MrsSpock said...

This was also atop concern of mine. No other platform even mentioned this. My children need help now-I can't wait 8 or more years for someone to decide it's worthy of notice.