What’s in a Name?
You would think that with a name like “Wright,” most things in life would go your way. “Mr. Wright is here for his job interview.” It’s almost an unfair advantage. Even if you wanted to be rational about it, something just triggers yes inside. “Suzanne, I’d like you to meet Mr. Wright.”
But it isn’t always the case. I’m thinking of Bob Wright, a Southport resident for thirty years, who has held enviable top positions at NBC Universal as well as at GE Financial. Then there’s his charismatic wife and the beautiful home they share in the storybook-like community. He’s made good decisions, mastered control over complex, ever-evolving businesses and juggled staggering responsibilities. His whole life, he’s been Mr. Wright, in both senses of the word.
Until something took him out of charge. When his grandson, Christian, was born, he was instantly, of course, his grandparents’ delight. A loving child to adore. But before two years had passed, Christian’s world changed, and it became undeniable that something was very wrong. Eventually, he was diagnosed with autism — a shock that upended the Wrights’ paradigm.
As you will read in Stephen Sawicki’s story, these grandparents were not knocked off their feet for long. What do people like Bob and Suzanne do when they find themselves suddenly not in charge — they turn things around and take control. They created Autism Speaks, which has become the world’s largest foundation dedicated to researching the causes of autism, developing treatments, raise awareness and helping those affected by the disorder. Those include the parents here in our towns who have had to come to terms with the same diagnosis in their own families and found themselves wondering where to turn.
Anything that touches raw nerves of pain, vulnerability and frustration is going to cause controversy. Despite its astounding growth, so too does Autism Speaks. Its work is not without backlash. Yet, the Wrights are persistent, sure that what they are doing is the right thing.
Whether they are on target or not is debatable, but their drive and intention are not. They make the Wright name that much more alluring, and for substantial, significant reasons, and I wish them luck.
Looking For Local Resources?
• Giant Steps, Southport, 254-9872
• Hope Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Westport,
• Pilot House, Fairfield, 319-7452
• Wilton Youth Services, wiltonyouthservices.org; and
Sped*Net, spednet wilton.org
Also, Margaret Bauman, MD, of the Autism Treatment Network and Harvard University Medical School, will talk about the current state of autism, at the Westport Woman’s Club, February 6, 6:30 p.m., 221-8885.