-- labor-union motto
Joy's been developing new favorite / happiest / funniest-words-in-the-world. (Remember yawns? And panda / Santa?
This April, just in time for Autism Awareness Month, she's picked on an especially good one.
It actually comes out somewhat like "GEH-guh!" But she wants people around her to say it right. She'll come up to you and say "geh-guh" to request that you say "together" for her. Her school staff put this together (heh!) with the song:
The more we get together, together, together,Four "geh-guhs" for the price of one, what a deal!
The more we get together,
The happier we'll be!
"Together" is a powerful core for Autism Awareness Month. Awareness leads to action, and action gains power when people work together.
I've been running around like crazy these past weeks, trying to get set up to take advantage of Autism Awareness Month opportunities for letting people know about the autism-related issues in Wisconsin around the state budget legislation (Medicaid! and Education!) and threats to the autism insurance mandate.
One result of that scrambling has been a new advocacy page on the website of the Autism Society of Greater Madison. There's been a press release. There's been a legislator letter. There's been a budget handout. There's been the organizing for a presentation on autism and the Wisconsin budget (at which it looks like I might even be doing a little bit of presenting, though I'm not the main attraction by any means.) I've been meeting lots of people, doing lots of autism-related networking.
But it's a bigger "together" than that. With all the new legislation-based threats to people with autism in Wisconsin, not a single one of those threats is specific to autism. In fact, the word "autism" is not even mentioned in either the budget or the health insurance mandate-busting bills.
What a stunning opportunity to join coalitions and make common cause with other disability groups and other issue groups!
The coalition groups have really been out in front with legislative positions and actions. Remember the Medicaid-related press conference back on February 20? A coalition effort. There's a coalition that's working on the mandate-busting issue -- based on a coalition that originally formed in support of mental-health parity a few years back. There there are longer-term established cross-disability organizations and coalitions that throw events like the Disability Advocacy Day that just happened in Madison on April 6, and put out materials like this impressive suite on the budget.
It is good to be tapping in to all these levels of group action. There's something of a progression that could almost be charted like this:
autism ==} developmental disabilities ==} special healthcare needs ==} health care
autism education ==} special education ==} education
When you get to the bigger coalitions staffed with professionals, there's a whole new level of access and clout. I'm really looking forward to seeing what connections I can help foster, and what my special-interest (autism) group can both gain from, and contribute to, larger group efforts.
Today I'm headed out for more networking at the Autism Society of Wisconsin annual conference. Tomorrow our whole family is participating in a local Autism Awareness Month fundraiser, "One Walk, Big Strides for Autism" walk.
Lots of "together." Happiest thing in the world, right now!