April is Autism Awareness Month, and if you have been following for awhile, you know that our oldest has autism. He is one of the now 1 in 68 kids (and 1 in 42 boys!) who is given this diagnosis.
I caught this picture the other morning, on our way to school. I LOVE that every morning, our oldest skips/runs all the way to school. We have to remind him to slow down and check for traffic, etc., but really, that is SOO much better than having to fight to get him out the door. He really enjoys school and we have been blessed with a great school for him to go to.
But, I love this picture because it represents a little of what this journey is like for our family. There is fog, lots of unknowns; and some days are foggier than others. But, there is also MUCH joy. Some days we have to fight for it (it's why I keep a list), and some days it's right there in front of us for the taking. But, isn't that what all of life is like?
So, I say my piece for Autism Awareness... because with numbers like that, you and your kids will encounter kids and adults who are on the spectrum. I was trying to put into words what I would like Autism Awareness to mean, and then I read what Kalyn Falk wrote and thought I would share her words instead...
"This is what I propose: On April 2nd, can we make two promises?
First, that we won’t pity people with autism or parents of those people. Because pity is the twin sister of hatred. It keeps a wedge between us and, trust me, it doesn’t help you see the beauty and gift that each person with autism has to offer and it doesn’t dignify that person or their parents. Curiosity, care and enjoyment might be better ways to go.
Second, could we declare April 2nd to be one day where we don’t talk about cures, vaccines, miracles or supplements? We just need one day when other people can simply accept the fact that autism exists and that the first goal should not be about how to eradicate it. As Temple Grandin, chief spokesperson for autistic people everywhere, suggests, without autism, there would be no electricity, no computers, no brilliant mathematicians or artists. Without autism, we’d be one big episode of Big Brother, where all people do is play a social game and not accomplish anything. So instead of trying to vilify autism and suggest ways that I can work harder at curing my child, would you instead like to buy my kid a Slurpee or take him out for a cheeseburger or (if you’re too scared to spend time with him) buy a gift to celebrate a parent or person who works with someone with autism?
The promise I can make in return is to remember that Autism isn’t the only thing I need to be aware of. Even though my world is coloured by this particular word, I can promise to remember that you may have a word that colours your world, and I will try to be curious and caring about that."
from “Mother of the Year and Other Elusive Awards: Misadventures in Autism," by Kalyn Falk (you can follow her here, too)
P.S. A couple of links if you want more information:
- 10 Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew.
- a great descriptive video from the Dutch Autism Association
- And more of our story is here and here.