Disney, Drawings, Autism and a Hiatus

October 14th, 2006 | Posted in General

I’m leaving today with Anna and my four kids for our annual trip to Disney World. About ten years ago I did a bizarre but good paying job for a CD-ROM game company called Parody Interactive, and with 4 young kids Anna and I decided to invest the money I earned on the job into a timeshare in Orlando. We’ve been every year since. We have a picture of our kids standing in front of Cinderella’s fountain in the Magic Kingdom every year for a decade… an annual tradition. The fountain looks the same in every picture, but my youngest was 6 months old in a stroller in the first one, and will be 10 with a shaggy hockey haircut and a Nintendo Gameboy hanging off his belt in the one we take this week. Other than the Sunday Mailbag feature, which I have set to magically appear at the appointed time tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll be blogging at all until I return to the studio next week Saturday. Our condo doesn’t have wifi or internet access, so I’ll be restricted to one or two trips to Starbucks to get my e-mail to keep up with clients. So the blog will be quiet for a week or so, although I may do a sneak attack on some unsuspecting caricaturist somewhere in Orlando and take pictures of it.

Speaking of clients, I’ll be bringing some work along with. I’ll be working on the Nader job and another workplace poster. I actually enjoy working in hotel rooms… there is very little distraction and between my iPod and the closed bathroom door (the bathroom is the one place I can have a light on and not disturb anyone) I can get a lot of work done in just an hour or two every night after the rest of the family is passed out. Anna likes to joke that I have spilled ink in the bathrooms of some of the finest hotels in the world.

I thought I’d post the final art for the Scholastic “Kyle XY” piece”, which I finished today before I started packing:

kylexyfinal.jpg

Off the art topic, here’s a link to the ending of a story I first read about this summer:

YOUTH COACH SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR BEANING OF AUTISTIC PLAYER

Maybe I have mentioned this and maybe I have not, I don’t exactly recall, but my oldest daughter Elizabeth is autistic. She would not be considered high-functioning like an “Asberger’s Syndrome” or “Fragile X”, but neither is she totally non-verbal. She’s really a textbook case, and something like this story really hits home.

In a nutshell, this “gentleman” was a coach for a youth baseball team. In what he apparently deemed the interest of winning, he offered an 8 year old pitcher $25.00 to bean one of his own players, who is mildly autistic, in order to injure him enough to keep him from playing. The autistic boy was 9.

I’ve seen this kind of thing before. Not to this extreme, but I’ve seen many examples of people today who cannot see past their own miserable and petty needs in order to show some compassion for someone who is challenged with something like autism, or any handicap. Too many people walk around this world thinking about nothing but themselves. They get angry if the car in front of them isn’t going fast enough, or if someone asks for extra help from a sales person they want to talk with, or if anything gets in the way of their getting something they want or interferes with something they are doing. People are even proud of this kind of attitude… “It’s all about Me” t-shirts abound.

It is incredible to me that an adult, and one that was charged with the responsibility of overseeing a youth baseball team, would do something like this to any kid, let alone one with a handicap like autism. This guy has no idea what kind of courage this kid probably had to muster to try and play baseball with mainstream kids. Autistic kids rarely have the cognitive skills to play team sports and difficulty in social interaction is part of the definition of autism. Young kids are not as a rule tolerent for special needs kids. There are a lot of terms like ‘retard’ and ‘gimp’ thrown around by thoughtless kids. How much courage did that take, for both him and for his parents who likely feared for their son’s emotional well being? More courage than this coach has or likely will ever have. On his way out of the courtroom after sentencing, this worthy told reporters: “I didn’t do nothin'”. Well spoken, Einstein. Say hello to your cellmate “Ripper” for me.

On one of our trips to Disney one year, Elizabeth and I sat in our airplane seats, and Elizabeth proceeded to sing. She does that a lot… it’s a way she has of releasing after the over-stimulation of being in crowds or places she is not familiar with. She wasn’t being overly loud, or I would have tried to calm her down. She was just singing some Barney song in a normal voice. After about 5 minutes the gentleman in the seat in front of her angrily turned around and demanded to know if she was going to keep that up the entire plane ride. 5 minutes. I said “I don’t know… I’ll ask her”. I asked Elizabeth and told her this man didn’t like her singing, and of course she didn’t answer me. I said to the man “gee, I guess since she’s mentally challenged she doesn’t care what you think.” He threw his hands up and said very insincerely “I apologize”, and turned around sulking. What a jerk. I’m sure all he could think about was his bad luck being seated next to an autistic girl who ruined his relaxing plane ride. Elizabeth will live with autism the rest of her life, this asshole was affected by it for 90 minutes. Poor guy.

I can thank God that because of Elizabeth my kids will never be like that. They have seen firsthand the difficulties that people with autism face in the most basic of daily life, and have a clear understanding of the challenge any handicap or special need present in a person’s life. They will never be inconsiderate or mean to a special needs person, and would likely stand up and defend someone who is being picked on or demeaned because of their mental or physical challenge. They have had to sacrifice much because of their older sister, who has a penchant for destroying things and difficulty dealing with anything out of her routine, and that has limited what they can have in their rooms, what they can do with their time and even how we take family vacations. The trade off is they don’t need to be told how to treat people or how to help those that have trouble helping themselves.

If that youth baseball coach had grown up with a special needs sibling, he wouldn’t be rooming with Ripper for the next year.

Comments

  1. SteveH says:

    Have an awesome vacation and Wendy and I really hope we can make the trip next year and meet Elizabeth in person. You guy’s ROCK!

  2. pagmatic says:

    Wow there’s somebody else that knows about Fragile X?! I’m a carrier; but all my male cousins on my mom’s side has it. Sadly, she treated me as if I had it , also. It’s one of those things that have left me scarred-for-life; but I’m getting alot better dealing with it.

    And that’s your Fun Pag Fact for the day.

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