As a parent of a kid with autism, this is what I have to lose if Trump becomes president.

Just a few short years ago, I was sitting in the family room with my husband, entertained by Donald Trump’s aloof presence in the boardroom.

We were laughing over the crazy antics of the contestants on his television show, "The Apprentice."

Now it’s 2016, and Donald Trump is running for president of the United States of America. And I’m not laughing now.


Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images.

In fact, I’m terrified. I’m terrified that Trump — an ableist, a man who openly and publicly discriminates against people with disabilities (or the perception of disability) — is potentially weeks away from holding the highest office in the land.

Now, Trump is laughing.

He was laughing as he openly mocked Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski is a New York Times reporter who was born with arthrogryposis, a physical disability which noticeably impairs the joints in his body. "The poor guy, you ought to see this guy," Trump boomed over the adoring faces in the crowd.

Carried by the rising fire in his words, the people in the audience were swept up in the message. They laughed, too.

As a mother of a disabled child, I watched this on television in my living room. And I cried.

I wrung my hands in fear, questioning how this man and his supporters could possibly find any compassion for my son. My son has severe autism, and at almost 13 years old, he can barely speak. He often makes strange sounds and delivers odd jolting gestures at awkward moments. He is smart and sweet, complicated and mysterious.

Image via iStock.

I watched in paralyzing fear as Trump honed his relationship with radio host Michael Savage.

He has delivered one troubling, disturbing message on Savage’s show after another. Savage, in turn, has made a bid to be Trump’s head of the National Institute of Health. This is a man who, in 2008, claimed that "nearly every child with autism is a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out."

I watched in horror as Trump contributed to the dangerous anti-vaccine movement.

He tweets destructive messages that strengthen the already dangerous fear of autism in this country. "Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes—AUTISM. Many such cases!" he disjointedly tweeted in 2014.

As a mother of a disabled child, I know Trump in the White House means four years of few real solutions for my son, and that is terrifying.

It likely means no empathy for the plight of families contending with autism in this country. It likely means no support but lots of fear.

If Trump wins this election, he will undoubtedly continue to spread misinformation about autism and developmental disabilities. He cares much more about being right than he does about the truth. And so as Trump’s version of how autism is caused permeates society, I fear we will have a nation of under-immunized children.

Image via iStock.

I lie awake at night in fear, wondering if a Trump administration will again take us back to the days when even talking about my son’s disability felt like a punishable offense.

Those were days when mentioning "autism" as an insurance code was enough to have the doctor’s visit immediately rejected by our insurer.

If Donald Trump becomes president, I believe my family has so much to lose. And I’m scared.

Now, as a family, we have made peace with autism. My son is part of autism, and autism is a part of him. I do not think we would change it — it’s been part of us so long.  

But I'm worried because you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat those who need help: the temporarily infirm, the disabled and the elderly, the sick and the poor. Those who have a path harder to walk than most. It’s an idea that goes beyond Republican and Democrat and floats in the soft space of humanity: taking care of those people in our country that cannot, through no fault of their own, care for themselves.

As Trump laughs at disabled reporters, mocks a deaf actress, and questions essential foundations of national health, I worry about the future — my future, my son’s future, your future. Trump's lack of empathy is what truly makes me afraid.

I worry that if Trump is our president, there will be a dangerous shift in tolerance toward children and adults like my son.

If the president of the United States makes fun of disabled persons, who will stop the children on the playground? Will my son be the victim of taunts and harassment from kids or even grown adults who are just modeling the behavior of the most powerful man in the country?

I can’t vote for the school-yard bully. So, world, I have a simple request: Think about your own children. And if you can, think about mine.

Electing Donald Trump will speak dangerous loud volumes — far more than a parent’s words could ever say. That kind of president is not one I want.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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