It still happens…5 years since diagnosis and we can still catch people off guard when we say the word “Autism”.
It’s funny watching someone’s reaction. We get anywhere from an “oh!” surprise/a empathetic “sorry”/ or a completely uncomfortable “I’m not sure what to say so I am going to look at my feet” look.
I get it. I remember the beginning when I had a hard time even saying the word. I didn’t understand it. I tried to. I researched the crap out of it, read blogs, cried at Youtube, felt despair, desperation, frustration and a total sense of loss of control in our life. I shared little with friends and cried a lot with my husband.
We were contemplating and (NOW) laughing about this the other day. How deep and high the roller coaster is of emotions you experience coming to terms with words like Special Needs, Autism and the number of ignorant commentaries that exist throughout your normal day. We realized we had traversed through our own version of the 5 stages of grief. The first 4- Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression simply put…just sucked in terms of understanding Autism.
The last stage, the one I have ached for for these past 5 years, the one that helps me feel like I can finally breathe again, the one that has me realizing that our relationship has survived, the one that has taught us to relax, think of things in a different perspective, laugh more…
That word…means so much in our world.
For us it means calmer tides in managing a life with Autism. It means thinking of where we are as a family not what T might go through in his lifetime.
It means not getting stressed out, horrifically embarrassed or having your eyes burning with tears when publicly someone reacts or says something well…just ignorant.
It means letting go of those inside thoughts hearing other parents talk about a challenging issue with their kids. All the while you are thinking “Ok, but you know your kid is getting invited to go to birthday parties, playing sports, will go on dates, move out of the house, and live comfortably on their own.. and we don’t have a clue if any of that is in our future.”
It means a school system that admits their faults and instead starts striving towards legitimately supporting children with Autism. This won’t be accomplished by putting them in a separate special needs room. This will be accomplished by accepting that the school dynamic has changed, that moving forward there is likely going to be 2-3 children with Autism in each classroom and incorporating education for children on how to view their Autistic peers as different, not less.
As the national average has just shown yet another jump in Autism diagnosis to 1 in 68 recently (30% increase from 2 years ago), ACCEPTANCE is something we need to start focusing on in society as a whole. Whether through a friend, a relative, a neighbour or a classmate the odds are too great for Autism not to be somewhere in your world. With acceptance, first comes the need to understand.
As we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, take a moment to try to learn what Autism is about. The funny thing…most of us Autism parents are beyond thrilled to actually openly explain the parts we can.
TRY to look at it differently. TAKE TIME to understand.
TODAY is about Lighting it Up Blue around the world for Autism awareness.
Support the momentum that globally we have seen take shape over the last couple of years by taking the time to understand and teach your children about ACCEPTANCE.
Autism Speaks has some great examples of Lighting it up Blue. Head to lightitupblue.org to register how you are taking action for Autism Awareness. Super proud of Home Depot and Philips who have teamed up to provide a #LIUB blue floodlight or simply stop by and grab a blue lightbulb and put it up in or outside your house today to show your support for Autism Awareness.
Together we can make change.