When you said, and I am paraphrasing, “the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick,” I had much the same reaction as Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, which was “I love this woman!” And by now you know that you have the rapt attention of every parent of a child with a disability in America, because you looked straight into the camera and promised, if elected, to be our friend and advocate in The White House.
You are hard not to like, Sarah, but I just wanted you to know, if you do not already, that every mom of a child with a disability, at one time or another becomes “a pit bull with lipstick.” The pit bull instincts come out when you fight with an insurance company for coverage for speech therapy, OT, PT or ABA. The pit bull instincts appear when a neurologist or psychiatrist tells you that heavy medication is the only answer for your child, so just accept it. The pit bull instinct erupts at IEP meetings or when your child is bullied at the playground because he is different.
Jenny McCarthy’s new book is tentatively entitled Mother Warriors and all of us with special needs children can relate to that title. Jenny McCarthy, love her or hate her, is definitely a pit bull with lipstick (and great hair, and a fashion stylist!). You don’t really have a choice as a special needs mom, you just don the armor along with your makeup each day.
Your sweet baby boy Trig is only 4 months old, so you may not have experienced all of these moments yet, but you will. You might be somewhat protected by your personal wealth and celebrity from some of these issues, although those very things could make it harder for you and your family too. But you will be fine in the end. We already know you are a fighter, and for that reason, your son is incredibly lucky.
A lot of us who have children with autism have friends who have children with Down Syndrome. We are combat buddies, who spent hours together in waiting rooms at therapy centers or working side by side with our children and their therapists. We know what you and Trig are facing and the level of early intervention that is required, so you have a knowledgeable and sympathetic constituency in the Mother (and Father!) warriors of the world.
But you have to know, Sarah, that we pit bulls don’t take promises lightly. We want to know specifics about the McCain-Palin platform for special needs. The Professor and I are decidedly democrat, yet we would listen to you on this topic, if you could make a persuasive case. This article in The New York Times today was not encouraging. But I know your record on special needs legislation as governor comes prior to the birth of your son, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I won’t hold you to the past, but I do want more than a promise for the future.
So come on Sarah, you threw us the bone (pun fully intended!), now deliver.
Your fellow pit bulls in make-up are listening.
P.S. I just read in another New York Times article that your nephew has autism. Which makes it a little hard to understand your decision to cut Alaska's special education budget. But you have the chance to make up for it now on a larger scale. Still, we'd like some thoughtful answers and the chance for some discussion.
(Note to readers: for updates on the candidates’ platforms on disability issues, see Autism Votes.)
(Photo courtesy of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.)