How to Be Autism Aware All Year
But after this day has come and gone, there are easy things you can do to be supportive and 'Autism Aware' every day of the year.
So what do some of the autism parents I talked to want you to be 'aware' of?
"My child is more sensitive than most kids...to sounds, lights, foods…so if he makes a funny sound or flaps his hands, he’s just trying to deal with what’s going on around him."
"You can say hi to him, he might just not respond, and it’s not because he’s rude. I might respond for him, because he can’t."
"He may not be able to express himself, but he understands. He has feelings, and he knows when you’re talking about him."
"Not all people with autism are the same, so don't compare them."
"These kids will grow up one day – support adult autism services."
"Autism does not look a certain way, and saying 'they look normal' is not a compliment!"
"We don't expect special treatment, but we so appreciate it when it's given."
"Please be tolerant. My son can't be left alone, so I have to take him into the ladies' room with me. He's a bigger kid, so sometimes people give me looks. He's also afraid of the hand dryer, because it's too loud, so he flaps his arms. Going to the bathroom in a public place is a daily challenge."
"Every kid has challenges, this is just a specific challenge for us. I just wish things could be easier for him."
"We have the autism awareness...now we need the autism acceptance."
"The big thing is tolerance and patience. Teach your kids to be tolerant. Be kind. If somebody is behaving a little differently, that kid is special in their own way. Different is not bad, it’s just different. And that child needs your love and your patience."
"Please don't judge us."
The biggest thing I heard from each person? Be kind. Be patient. Don't give dirty looks, or assume that someone is a bad parent because their child is having a meltdown in a store or making a loud noise in a quiet restaurant. If a child is taking a long time to get on a school bus, don't beep your horn.
As with most situations in life, if we were all a little nicer to each other, life would be better for everyone.