Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making My Voice Heard at The White House #LATISM recap

Four years ago, when The Boy was diagnosed with autism - if someone would have told me that it would have led me to The White House, I would have told them to shut the __ __!  (I think you can fill in the blanks.)

And when I started this blog - I never imagined any one would read it other than my professor and maybe, my classmates.  But some how, over the last year and a half - people are reading.

So when I was invited to The White House as one of the Top Blogueras - for a White House Policy Briefing/Panel Discussion on Creating an America that is Built to Last.  I was honored.  And I owned it.

Walking up the steps to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

I am not a public speaker.  I am uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience.  Only when I am truly comfortable with someone, am I at ease speaking.  I always tell people - I am so much better on paper.  On paper, I can get it right.    

When the distinguished panel opened up the discussion for Q & A, I wondered if I should say anything.  I had nothing prepared.  No brilliant question or poignant statement to make.  But I forced myself to raise my hand  (after all there was a chance,  I would not be picked and I could tell myself that I tried) knowing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

But I was picked.  And I had to speak.  

That's ME!  Standing at the podium.
Photo courtesy of AnaRc
“@Autismwonderland advocates for kids with autism in the Bronx #latismatthewh”
I told them my name, my blog name and where I was from.  I very briefly told them about The Boy and our experience with special needs services in The Bronx. I told them how much The Bronx was lacking when it came to special education and appropriate services.  I didn't say anything earth moving or mind blowing - I just voiced my concerns for my child.  

And while I expressed that the Let's Move campaign was a great idea - I told them that a program like that wouldn't be appropriate for a child like mine.  All children can benefit from physical activity - especially children with autism.

My ultimate question:  What does the administration plan on doing for special needs children?

For a recap on the discussion go visit Mommy Maestra here -   

But there was so much I didn't say.

I could have told them all the things I've been through As a Parent

I could have talked about how I Cannot Lose Him.

I could have told them All the things I want for The Boy.

There were so many things I could have said that I didn't say.  

Should have.  Could have.  It doesn't matter.  I said something.  I made my voice heard.  And I got my point across.
I've been speaking almost all of my life.  I've been writing for more than half.  

My professor inspired me to start this blog.  

LATISM gave me the opportunity to go to the White House.

The Husband and my family and friends gave me the support I needed to go.  

As for The Boy?  He gave me my voice.  

And I will continue to use my voice to speak up for him, until the time comes when he will speak up for himself.

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.