I've always had a knack for mimicking voices. Have you ever heard Zoe from Sesame Street tell Elmo to stick it where the sunny days don't shine? I can do that. And I can sing in about a zillion voices. I once sang nursery rhymes to my kids in Cher's voice. Cher is particularly adept at "Baaaa, Baaaa Black Sheep" as you can imagine. When Alanis Morissette sings "Itsy Bitsy Spider" my youngest daughter cries. But Alanis does get a little morose during the "down came the rain" part.
In first grade I used to imitate Bill Cosby's, "Hey Hey Hey, it's faaaat Albert!" with a gruff voice that greatly amused the eighth graders. They used to beg me to do my imitation on the bus and in the bathroom of Dominican Academy, in Plainville, Massachusetts where my voice would echo off the Catholic school green tile walls. I can still picture the Gards feminine hygiene box and the rusty white sinks against the wall as I performed my trick. At five I had an audience.
I loved Fat Albert. And now I love Bill Cosby even more. Last night he was on Larry King Live for an hour dedicated to autism. He is performing at The Lincoln Center in April, and he has requested that the proceeds go to studying the environmental causes of autism. Someone hand me a Jell-O pop immediately. One of the actresses on Cosby became a good friend of the actor and remained in his life long after the show ended. She has a young son with autism and Cosby has witnessed her struggles. Now he plans to step up to the plate and try to make a difference for her son. For my three daughters.
Toni Braxton was also on Larry King Live. She described how she feels for her 3 year old son with autism named Diesel - and the tears spilled out of her eyes as she spoke. I know those feelings. The shock. The worry. The fear. But Toni has a lot of people reaching out to her. From all sides of the autism community. And I know that because she is wealthy, her son will have access to the best therapy, schooling and treatment in the world. Sadly, that is not the case for those of us who do not have $50,000+ a year to spend out of pocket for our children.
I received a thought provoking email this morning about the Larry King Live show from another autism Mom. A mom with multiple autistic children, like me. She said, "As a mother from the Neurodiverse side, I found Toni Braxton sad beyond belief. I wanted to reach out to her and tell her it is not so bad."
And while my first reaction was "WTF! Why can't you just accept that getting that diagnosis for your child is devastating!" However, my advancing age has taught me to calm down a teensy bit before striking like a viper. When I really thought about her words, I have to agree with her. If she and I sat down with Toni Braxton we could each tell her about the great joys our children bring us. No doubt. But then this Mom would walk away, feeling her job was done. Whereas I would take Toni's hand and say, "Now let's get to work."
To Toni, and every other parent with an autistic child, my hand is extended. You can shake it and go your own way. You can grab it and hold on for dear life. Or you can slap it. Your call. Fat Albert taught me about perseverance, friendship and making the best of your situation even if your life didn't look like the white bread perfection that was the "norm" on TV. Bill Cosby taught me last night that people outside of our world really care and will try to help. Hey, hey, hey, Bill Cosby. Thank you,