When Every Day is Autism Awareness Day
It's World Autism Awareness Day, and for many, that means wearing blue, donning puzzle piece pins, and installing blue light bulbs for tonight.
For families affected by autism, it's just another Wednesday, full of the daily challenges that come with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Local mom and Autism with a Side of Fries blogger Eileen* of Wall says when it comes to this day, she has become jaded.
How much more aware do I have to be? I was no less aware in March of my son's autism or autism in general. However, April kicks off Autism Awareness Month so I got to turn up my autism awareness to 11 apparently. Can I slack off a bit come May? That would be nice. Mother's Day and all. ...
Here's there thing, I am so aware of autism. I am very much aware of it when my kiddo wakes me up 4 AM to remind me anxiously he would like to vacuum on Saturday.
I am beyond aware of it when my kiddo starts pacing nervously around the house when I have to inform him of a sudden schedule change because a therapist canceled.
I find myself rolling my eyes with awareness when I get an email from my kiddo's school PTA asking me to make sure my son wears blue on World Autism Day on April 2nd. Cause you know, he's not really representing how much he supports autism by just being autistic or whatnot.
My wallet is keenly aware of it when I bring in the mail and I see a stack of bills from credit cards we have used to pay for said above therapy. ...
I'm very aware of it with each passing birthday of his. I am aware of it when it keeps me up at nights worrying about his future. ...
I am aware I just want autism acceptance. I just want the world...to just be like "Oh autistic, okay, what I can to make this work for ya?" [all sic]'
And that's the difference. Instead of being 'aware' of it, find ways to be helpful. Instead of casting judgment on the mother in the supermarket whose child is repeating movie quotes at the top of his lungs, or grabbing at a stranger's coat, or nervously pacing around a coffee shop, understand it's not a lack of parenting.
You never know, the kid could be stimming, or overwhelmed by lights and sounds that seem normal to us, or just keeping himself occupied as best he can.
As ASD diagnosis rates seem to continually increase, understand that more and more individuals will be navigating their way through life with brains that are processing things in a very different way.
Get involved with local autism groups like Autism NJ, volunteer, spend time with someone who has autism...or just be understanding and accepting of the quirks of ASDs.
That mom in the supermarket? She could use a caring smile instead of a glaring stare. That's all it takes.
*Eileen's last name has not been included to protect her family's privacy.