The news came down yesterday, finally released after months and months and months of buzzing on social media about how the CDC had their numbers, but was holding fast to the new statistics (New as can be I suppose from analysis drawn on data from 2008. So yeah, um…really old data). Whether that be true or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that those prevalence statistics were released officially yesterday and an inevitable floodgate of emotion came with it.
1 in 88.
The shock, the finger-pointing, the fear-mongering, the downright ripe for the picking anger and anguish that such data elicited lit up my news feeds on Twitter and Facebook like a Christmas tree. The tsunami of emotion that such figures evoked fed our parental insecurities, our skepticism, and mistrust of authority, in essence feeding the divisiveness in our community. That divisiveness that our families, our children, our world cannot afford.
I didn’t dig too deeply into the media, knowing that our community would need to sit with this information, knowing that collectively we would need to process it and interpret it and accommodate it into their existing data banks only after the onslaught of shock and emotion worked its way out. I myself began processing what these numbers mean, thinking deeply about all of the questions and emotions that this “new” data evoked in me and what it then said about our children, our community, and our world.
But what I couldn’t get out of my mind and my heart was a sense of urgency.
This “new” data fed my sense of urgency. The irony is that I’ve held fast this urgency for years now, yet somehow the urgency became more urgent, if that is possible, upon initially hearing about and then beginning to process these numbers.
Because what they are is numbers. Shocking numbers…yes. Old numbers…yes. But in the end, just numbers. Numbers to the casual observers, to the news reporters, to the statisticians. Just numbers. Numbers come in, they sit, they leave like that idiom we oft use to describe our children in relation to their chores, “in one ear and out the other.”
But I, like so many of my fellow autism Mamas who started to buzz about and post about and talk about last night, see more than just numbers. I see the face of my baby boy. I see his smile, his laugh, his everything that makes him uniquely him.
I see our collective history intertwined. I see his depth and his milestones and his grace and his challenges. I see a montage of moments that I’ve collected and stored in my memory that captures my boy. I see him.
I see my husband and children, my parents, my siblings, my aunt and cousins, my husband’s family, our friends who are less like friends and more like family. I see our network of therapists, physicians, and teachers, both past and present.
I see our collective work. Our tears, our joy, our laughter that spills forth, all in the name of Jonas.
Jonas who is 1 in 88 to the world, but to us he is indeed more than that. To us, he is 1 in a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000.