Yesterday, an amazing thing happened.

Yesterday, a few moms and dads got together, used the power of their combined voices and made a difference.

A friend got her copy of the April issue of Parents magazine in the mail, and realized that there was no mention at all of April being Autism Awareness Month.  No stories, nothing at all.  She sent us a note.  And posted her dismay on the Parents Facebook page.

We followed.  Many of us did, in fact.  We told Parents magazine that we were disappointed.  We were sad.  We felt that Parents magazine no longer spoke to families like ours.  I said I was letting my subscription lapse.  They had missed a huge opportunity to connect with families, and maybe help parents who are struggling to understand what’s going on with their kids.  Their initial response was that they had an advertisement for a bed tent for children with autism in this issue, and they were planning two online articles.

We told them that wasn’t enough.  In fact, that was condescending.  And even more disappointing.

We bombarded them with Facebook posts and messages on Twitter.

Guess what?  They listened.

We would like to say again how grateful we are for your feedback and for the reminders in the last 48 hours that autism is not just 1 in 110—it’s about real people and real families. We feel that one of the best ways we can educate our readers and raise awareness for autism is through real-life stories. This is why we want to give you the opportunity to share your story with us and our audience as part of a blog series in addition to our planned articles. If you are interested in participating, please email FacebookSupport@meredith.com with the following information:

• Your Name
• Child’s Name
• Living with Autism: Your Family Story (Please keep stories to 500 words so we can include more voices in the blog.)
• Photo of your child/your family (*Optional. We will include one photo if you’d like.)
• Link to your personal blog/website (*Optional.)

We are very sorry for making you and your families feel dismissed or unappreciated. It was not our intention. Autism is an issue worthy of Parents magazine’s attention and we hope we can move forward together to raise awareness throughout April.

Is it enough?  Not really.  It’s still online content only.  But it’s a start.  We came together with the same message and someone listened.

Now it’s time for us to follow through.  If you want, send them your story.  Let them know that it wasn’t just a few of us.  Tell them how autism has changed your life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Tell them that autism affects the whole family – mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  Tell them how you fight every day for your child to get what he or she needs to get through school and home life.  Tell them our kids matter – that they are special, sensational, amazing human beings that deserve to be highlighted in their magazine now and all the time.

And remind them that you hope to see a print version of this next April.  Because I’ll be renewing my subscription for one more year.  Hoping they do the right thing in 2012.

A huge shout out to my incredible friends who didn’t back down.

The moral of the story?  Don’t ever underestimate the power of our voices to speak for our children.  When we speak loud enough – and together – people listen.

“Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do without
Come on, I’m talking to you, come on
Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do without” – Shout by Tears for Fears

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