While the Legislature will adopt a resolution announcing April as Autism Awareness Month, as the parent of a young adult with autism,  it will just be another month.  I appreciate the gesture, but the reality is, it will have no impact on my daughter’s life.

Being the parent of a child or adult with autism is difficult.  Endless doctors’ appointments seeking a diagnosis; the eventual heartache of a diagnosis and then treatment;  living within the confines of your child’s needs and fears; ongoing money issues;  feeling like a  “ping pong ball” in a game between your school district and insurance company over issues like speech and occupational therapy; countless meetings with teachers and bureaucrats; disappointment about the lack of programs; the sacrifice endured by the rest of the family and the worry about the impact on your other children; all of this layered over with the fear of your child’s future and whether they will be able to survive once you are gone.

All of those thoughts and fears (and more), come at a time when the prevalence of autism continues to increase – and at a time when health care coverage and options for many with autism may be severely limited later this year when the US Supreme Court rules on “Obamacare.”

To the members of the Legislature, as a parent of a young adult with autism, thanks for the resolution, but the reality is it will have little positive impact on improving my daughter’s life.  As a parent I have a simple request: put the partisan politics and personal political agenda’s aside and start tackling the complex and long term problems facing this state.  Help create opportunities for our children to succeed.  Our current path is one in which extreme political ideologies are tethered together for the sole purpose of personal political advancement.  Blind loyalty or fealty, whether to a cause, a person or an interest group has been a recipe for failure – our ongoing budget deficit (which has continued through multiple Governors and legislative sessions and leaders), the state’s high unemployment rate and low esteem the general population views the Legislature, are all validation of this failure.  We can’t succeed as a state when we eliminate opportunities for students to attend UC, CSU or community colleges.  We can’t succeed when we make it almost impossible to build anything or create new jobs in this state.  We can’t succeed when we refuse to address fundamental structural budget reform, instead preferring to use temporary Band-Aids and declaring victory (every six months) while at the same time eliminating or reducing programs and basic services for the poor and disabled.

The Legislature will again declare April Autism Awareness Month – just as they did last year and as they will next year and so on.  Thanks for the symbolic gesture, but for the health and safety of my daughter and others like her, I’d appreciate something more substantive.  What would really be appreciated would be the political courage to make decisions that are in the best long-term interest of the state.  Absent that, we will continue to spin our wheels in the hope that California’s fundamental problems will miraculously go away.  They won’t.