The light bulbs are burnt out. The balloons have deflated. All the walks have been walked. Now what?!?!
I’ll be honest, I used to hate autism awareness month. I felt like it was a month where people acted like they cared, really more for a day, April 2nd, and lit it up blue, and then everyone went back to their regular, autism-free, lives, feeling good about themselves for their acknowledgment. But this year, I decided to embrace April as autism awareness month and I blogged about it, and I read countless blogs. I connected with other autism families and people living with autism. And I learned more than I ever thought possible about something I’ve been living with for over a decade.
The strength in the autism community is undeniable. Whether they’re getting along or not, bring up an IEP or child abuse, and these parents band together as one, ready to fight for each child as if they were their own. All opinions, controversy, and mommy wars go out the window when a fellow autism family is in need.
Many adults with autism are angry. They don’t want a cure, they want acceptance. As a mom of a child who struggles with autism, sensory issues, and anxiety, it has been hard for me to swallow, but by the end of the month, I could feel my perspective shifting. My resistance wavered. I can actually see their perspective and I’m grateful for it. I dream of a day when my child is an adult and I hope he will see his autism as a gift as well.
I saw that families need help and services and respite. The world cannot keep their heads in the sand about the lack of resources for people who truly need it. The government and our schools need to step up their game. The medical community needs to get up to speed, and insurance companies need to help with the burden that an autism diagnosis can bring.
But there are many outstanding individuals and organizations that have devoted their lives to helping others and making a huge difference. There are a lot of good people and they’re working together, jumping into the fire, and moving mountains. They are parents, therapists, doctors, teachers, siblings, social workers, scientists, to name a few, and they’re growing by the masses. Each one of them is on a mission to provide their specific service to the autism community.
And there are amazing breakthroughs happening. Acceptance. Truth. Community. People are starting to understand the vast spectrum that autism is, not just verbal and non-verbal, but an entire complicated spectrum that truly is a rainbow, with bright and colorful and unique individuals that are lighting up our world every single day of the year. This month of awareness, I learned that people know autistics matter. They are seen and they are heard.
And so those of us with autism in our lives will go on being aware for the next eleven months, until the hoopla and parades and fireworks of Autism Awareness Month start again. I, for one, felt the universe shift this month. And now I’m looking forward to next year’s bash, to see how much further we can reach, and deeper we can dive, into the world of autism.