Evelyn Yang on autism and the pandemic: “Families are suffering … they’ve been abandoned” – AutismSTEP
As any student of American history will tell you, a presidential campaign doesn’t have to end in electoral victory to change history. From William Jennings Bryan advocating social welfare policies adopted by later presidents and Eugene McCarthy mainstreaming opposition to the Vietnam War to Shirley Chisholm breaking barriers for women and African Americans and Jesse Jackson becoming the first African American presidential candidate to run a competitive race, many defeated presidential candidates broke barriers or changed the national conversation in significant ways.
Andrew Yang was never a serious contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but his presidential bid accomplished both of those feats. He took a policy proposal that had once been relegated to the fringes of American political discourse — the universal basic income, in which the government guarantees every citizen a certain amount of money — and brought it into the mainstream with a catchy name, “the freedom dividend.” From a symbolic standpoint, he made history as the first significant Asian-American presidential candidate.
Yang did something else, for which he and his campaign do not receive nearly enough credit. As I wrote in December, he emerged as the foremost advocate of autism rights among any presidential candidate in recent memory.
I reached out to Evelyn Yang for an interview because, at a time when the entire nation is under quarantine to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to hear her thoughts about the unique struggle facing the autistic community. I am autistic myself (one of the great joys of my career was interviewing Elmo on “Sesame Street” about this topic) and know that people on the spectrum are struggling with this quarantine in unique ways, some of them quite different from our neurotypical counterparts.
“I’ve met so many families that routinely have to make difficult buying decisions, particularly around alternative therapies that are not covered by insurance,” Yang told Salon by email after our interview. “There are also tons of hidden costs, like having to buy more expensive food items to accommodate a special diet, for example. Families with special needs are balancing these expenses with all of their other everyday expenses. Meanwhile a parent’s capacity to work is oftentimes restricted because of more complicated childcare responsibilities. A basic income would obviously be a welcome source of relief especially now as work capacity is even more constrained for all of us. It’s also obvious the economy won’t snap back overnight even after the virus.”
For full article, please visit: https://www.salon.com/2020/04/10/evelyn-yang-on-autism-and-the-pandemic-families-are-suffering–theyve-been-abandoned/