Here we are again- Autism Awareness Month, and more specifically today is the "day". I feel much much differently about it than I did last year. I feel much more like a "down in the trenches" autism mom, more seasoned, more "aware". Aware of the kids' needs, the costs involved, and the barriers involved. Our family has been through it, learned more than we ever could have imagined, and adopted a very different way of living in order to accommodate our kiddos. Bottom line- WE REALLY GET IT. And because of this, I am no longer content to "celebrate" World Autism Awareness Day.
Don't get me wrong, it's very important for society to acknowledge this growing (exploding) trend of autism diagnoses. I am glad that any type of Autism Awareness Day exists. It's just not enough. I mean, light everything up blue (pretty), buy jewelry and t-shirts (especially do that since some of the money likely goes to research), but don't stop there. Here are some really very minor ways you can actually contribute to the cause:
I am a big fan of TACA. Talk about Curing Autism. I think some people hear this and assume that they think autism is like the plague, something to be eradicated. But as I have been to more and more meetings I have come to see that the goal (right now) is to find ways to alleviate the symptoms that disturb our children, to help them succeed to the best of their abilities without their sensory or attention or communication issues getting in the way. And yes, it does involve medical intervention. And behavioral intervention. This organization also provides invaluable resources for parents, such as information on any tax benefits available to parents of autistic children (not many) or a full list of brand names of items that are gluten and casein free, or a comprehensive list of providers all over the country. And support, which is of course, huge.
TACA is calling this Autism Action Month, and I am on board with that. We all need to take action- to spread awareness, to show acceptance and to raise funds for treatments, as families are weighed down tremendously by the financial implications of having a child with autism. Or two. What are we doing as a family for Autism Action Month? Well, we raise awareness every time we go out in public. But John and I are attending an autism conference in Pennsylvania this weekend. We are educating ourselves on the best ways to help our boys. And we will continue to attend TACA meetings, and to befriend other autism parents. And for me, one of my biggest actions is this blog. Anyone who reads my blog regularly and truly listens has become, by default, autism aware. Now, I am challenging you to take action- donate, walk in a walk, or run in a run, or simply invite an autistic child over to play (mom can stay :-)). You have no idea how much that would mean to the child and especially to the parent. Acceptance isn't just about refraining from scowling when an autistic child has a meltdown in public (although that's a great start), it's about welcoming individuals with autism into your lives.