Letters Reactions to letter on raising an autistic child

Posted: March 19, 2002

Katharine Beals' struggles to raise an autistic child in a society that condemns parents when their children don't behave in public was poignant and moving (Letters, March 12).

As a stay-at-home mother of three children under the age of 5, I have my moments of frustration, sleeplessness and self-doubt. They are far overweighed by the joy my children bring with an unsolicited kiss or hug, by the funny things they say and by the satisfaction of seeing them grow and learn through interaction with our family, friends and, yes, even interaction with the outside world. I can't begin to imagine the struggles that Beals faces daily, compounded by hearing "person after person berate you for raising such a poorly behaved child" when she takes her son out in public.

The next time you're annoyed by a parent and child invading your space, please think of Beals and her need to get a change of scenery and be around others. Can't we all be a little more tolerant of parents and children who want to venture outside the home? How about offering a smile or a hand to the parent with the crying toddler at the grocery store?

Annie Webb

Wayne

Katharine Beals truly writes from the heart of a loving mother who is devoting each day to her child with autism (Letters, March 12). As a parent of a child with autism, and one who also was involved with genetic testing for another anomaly, my heart goes out to her and other parents who each day must deal with the glances of people who are unaware of the struggles of a child with a disability.

Don't they think we all wanted healthy children, children whose days were not filled with therapists, behavior issues, illnesses, medicines, exhaustion and red tape? And when does it end? For many of us, probably not until our deaths because we have decided to keep our children living with us rather than subject them to waiting lists for group homes.

Maria T. Gulisano

Huntingdon Valley

jmg685@aol.com

I could have written a letter similar to Katharine Beals' (Inquirer, March 12). My daughter is 22 years old now. Her first years were filled with life-threatening medical conditions, which thankfully she survived. Ten of those years were spent in pursuing an appropriate education for her through exhaustive litigation with our school district. Another lifetime of effort went into finding a doctor who could help us with her behaviors.

No stone went unturned in my search for a doctor who could explain Jessie to us and prescribe medication. This painstaking process took several trials over many years. Persistent, unrelenting effort to find the help Jessie needed - and still needs - is required. Priorities and choices have to be considered and made to the best of our ability.

The most difficult thing for me was the isolation and seclusion I experienced. Sometimes no one can help. No one can possibly understand. But I have been the recipient of so many kindnesses throughout this perplexing journey, sometimes from friends, sometimes from strangers. I am filled with gratitude. I wonder what we would have been without Jessie as part of our family.

The story of our family is mainly about overcoming obstacles. The amazing thing is, we do come through each trial, sometimes beaten, sometimes with humor, always thankful and having really learned about our strength and resiliency, individually and as a family.

Vickie Travaline

Collingswood

starrtrav@snip.net

Tragedies in Africa

For far too long, the liberal intelligentsia has turned a blind eye to present-day problems in Africa such as the slave trade in the Sudan and terror tactics employed by the Mugabe government (Inquirer, March 13).

Blaming Zimbabwe's troubles on colonialism will not help the poor of that nation. Imagine the public outcry if Mugabe was white a leader who employed such racist tactics against the majority of Zimbabwe's population.

The time to address these issues is long overdue. Without true land reform, Zimbabwe will become synonymous with another African tragedy: Somalia.

Chuck McNally

Drexel Hill

Jersey budget crisis

To face the challenges of New Jersey's fiscal hangover (Editorial, March 9), Gov. McGreevey must seriously consider an increase in the excise tax on tobacco while ensuring that the state's commitment to anti-tobacco education and cessation services are not jeopardized by securitizing tobacco settlement dollars.

When cigarettes cost more, adults smoke less and fewer teens start smoking. Fewer smokers mean fewer cancer cases and deaths, which means a reduction in health-care costs for the state.

While the sale of bonds against tobacco settlement receipts may be a tempting way to patch the budget, the state has yet to commit to how much of these receipts will be used for tobacco control. Successful school health programs such as the New Jersey Quitline and Quitnet cessation initiatives are headed for the chopping block if tobacco settlement dollars are not tapped as intended.

We urge McGreevey to support a tobacco tax increase and not gamble with funds meant to support health-care costs.

Robert R. Kugler

President

American Cancer Society,

Eastern Division

Cherry Hill

I appreciated the editorial on New Jersey's budget crisis (Inquirer, March 9), but was disappointed that you did not end up with an obvious observation: The profligate fiscal policies of former Gov. Christie Whitman that produced the unhappy situation in New Jersey are the same as those being followed by President Bush on the national level.

By the time the nation is rid of Bush, the middle-class taxpayer will be forced to pay heavily to support necessary social services and the "safety net" will be in tatters. Apparently, it is easier to be critical after the fact than before the mistake is made.

Before the last election, polls showed that Americans preferred having the national debt reduced and social services maintained to having a tax cut. Yet politicians didn't seem to listen. Even sadder is that the Whitman/Bush tax cuts will benefit the already rich but, except for a few more early-bird specials, neither I nor any of my friends are any more well off.

Fred Picus

picusfm@juno.com

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