Because of our support of HB1940, we developed a relationship with Autism Speaks. The organization published my blog post (My Day at the GA) on their website, and our names were passed along to ABC News as they started working on a piece for Autism Speaks’ 10th birthday. As I responded to the hey-can-you-do-an-interview e-mail from Autism Speaks, I thought for sure it was not going to happen…but it’s nice to be considered. Seriously, my family is not that interesting.
A couple days later I got an e-mail from an ABC producer. “WTF have I gotten us into?” was all that went through my mind.
Twenty-four hours later, our house was spick and span, and the next day a field crew descended on our home. Thing 1 flipped out when they first arrived, but he calmed down while my husband and I sat for our interview. We were asked questions about how we met, how long we’ve been married, when did we know our children had autism, how “devastated” were we when Thing 2 was diagnosed, what is applied behavioral analysis, why does it cost so much, what has ABA done for our boys, why should Virginians support an expansion of the autism insurance mandate, and so on. We answered questions for about an hour, and I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach the entire time. We explained that ABA has been a game-changer for our family and gave Thing 1 a voice. It’s expensive because highly specialized one-on-one therapy usually is, and you pay for what you get. It’s important that Virginians support HB1940 because when it comes to the care of persons with autism, you either pay now or later. We prefer to invest in our boys now so they can learn how to make friends, survive school, and one day live as independently as possible. We also pointed out that having an age cap tied to autism insurance benefits is discriminatory.
The producer using the term “devastated” to describe going through the diagnosis process twice bothered me. Autism is not a death sentence, and while I certainly don’t want to see my children struggle to communicate, make friends, and gain acceptance, I get to tuck them in, read them stories, and smother them with kisses every day. That is a luxury, not a devastation.
The field producer does a lot of work for NPR and also published a short article with our interview here.
Once our interview was done, the boys came downstairs and were followed around by the camera and sound guys for two hours. They shot video of the boys playing games and trains, eating a snack, swinging outside, and reading a book.
It was a very long day.
One week went by, then another. We weren’t sure if the footage was chopped, if it was being saved for Autism Awareness Month, or if this story was going to air at all.
February 25 is the 10-year anniversary of the founding of Autism Speaks, and Good Morning America celebrated the date with an interview with Bob and Suzanne Wright, their daughter and grandson, and US for your viewing pleasure at 1:30 into the segment.
Don’t blink, though, or you’ll miss it. Some people get fifteen minutes of fame. I’m happy with our 10 seconds.