This year I wrote a autism-related letter to the editor of my local paper as I did last year. Last year's letter was printed and my husband subsequently posted it word-for-word on his information literacy blog.
I don't think my newest attempt will be printed because the content included an invitation to an event occurring today. The letter did not show up on the opinion page today. However, I'm not disappointed. I was feeling stressed on the day I emailed the letter and realize I made a few mistakes that I'm somewhat reluctant to admit to making.
I mostly wrote this year's version to let the chair of tonight's event know that I support her. My husband cannot watch the boys tonight and I don't think it would be appropriate to bring them along. Thus, I will not be able to attend because all of my babysitters have plans for tonight.
Also, unlike last year, our cause is expected to be covered by the paper sometime this week. I'll put the link(s) up if/when available. We may have two stories: one about my two friends (autism moms) in regards to one of them winning the CFX working woman of the year and another about a Tribute Walk that is to occur this Sunday.
Here is the corrected version of my letter:
"I am writing on behalf of the pending chapter Central Michigan Autism Society of Autism Impairment Assessment team from the Regional Education Service District (RESD) will speak at Anspach 161. If you are interested in autism, a professional or college student who needs to know more about this complex condition, or are concerned about the development of a young child, then this would be a wonderful event for you to attend.
According to the Autism Society of America’s (ASA) website, “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”
Here are some of the early signs of autism listed on the ASA’s website:
Lack of or delay in spoken language
Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
Little or no eye contact
Lack of interest in peer relationships
Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
Persistent fixation on parts of objects
If you cannot make it to the RESD panel but are still interested in finding out more about autism then we’d like to invite you to Jeremy’s Walk and Vigil at the South Pavilion in Island Park on Sunday, April 27, 2008, 2:30 p.m. There will be an information table staffed by a member of the Central Michigan Autism Society of America (pending chapter, CMASA) from 2-4 p.m. We’ll also be honoring the life of a beautiful eight-year-old boy that died last December. Everyone interested in attending is invited.
Central Michigan Autism Society of America
Concluding thoughts: There are a few days of Autism Awareness Month left. I encourage you to give letter writing a try. My advice is to avoid including timely dates, proofread and let someone else look your letter over, and finally, to make sure that you are familiar with the paper's guidelines for letters to the editor. Our paper has a word limit of 300 words per letter. I suspect such limits are common for local papers.