You've all seen the headlines, Denis Leary wrote a book. In it he has a chapter titled "Autism Schmautism" in which he makes what appears to be very derogatory comments about autism and the families that deal with autism. He claims he is being misunderstood. That his comments were taken out of context. That people have not read all of the chapter. You can read more about all over the internet.
Appears to me like he has used autism to help promote the selling of his book. I'm not liking that. But maybe, he is misunderstood. Just like our loved ones with autism. So let's give him the benefit of the doubt. But not at our families expense. I've written a letter. I'm asking him to post the entire chapter for all to read and better understand his intent. And ask that you do the same. I've also asked him to donate the proceeds to further the cause of autism awareness.
Here's my letter:
October 16, 2008
Dear Mr. Leary,
The excerpts from your book have caused quite an uproar. Especially in the autism community. The statements that were released are provoking, to say the least. You claim they are taken out of context. Well, then give us the context. Make it right.
I am a member of the autism community. I am mother to three children, two of which are on the autism spectrum. I am the facilitator of a support group for parents of children and adults with autism and other neurological disorders. I am on the board of directors for NeighborHeart, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and providing funds directly to families to help improve their quality of life.
So yes, I know “firsthand” about autism. I know how easily misunderstood it can be. I know how unaware many people are about what autism is, how it affects people and families and society. This is why I’d like to give you the opportunity to be understood yourself. People may be misunderstanding your writings because they don’t see the whole picture. So let us see it. But not so that you can profit from other’s diagnoses. Post the content of the chapter dealing with autism for all to read and judge you on your intent, not their misunderstanding. Publicize it as well as you have publicized the controversy.
You have shown the world your compassion through your work on behalf of firefighters. Show us the compassion that you have for the autism community. Put your money where your mouth is (or pen in this case). Donate the proceeds from the selling of your book to NeighborHeart (www.neighborheart.org/Default.asp) and help to bring awareness, understanding and acceptance.
Let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear them. And share your letters too!