Every April I'm usually all over Autism Awareness month. It's felt like if a treky had some Star Trek month they got to relish in all month long. These are my people. This is my tribe.
But this month I've been having a hard time with Autism Awareness Month.
Perhaps I'm a bit perturbed about Autism keeping me from having one night of rest for the past 8 years.
Or maybe I've just had it with the tests and diagnosis and appointments and reminders and therapists and behaviourists and specialists and pharmacists and medicine runs and visual aids that are all needed to try to get us through one.single.day. at a time.
It could be that I'm just so frustrated with everything. Cleaning the same messes over and over again. The same arguments. The same whatever every day.
So upon a lot of self reflection I think I have come to the meaning behind my begrudging Autism Awareness:
It came when I saw a really good article about Autism. It was all about how autism is diagnosed vs. how autism is in the reality. One of the examples was something like Autistic kids may not interact in peer groups but the reality is that Autistic kids often find the universe more stimulating than interacting with peers.
What an awesome perspective! And so in reading this I have to admit that I began to feel twinges of guilt. I think the reason is because I have not been looking for the silver lining of the Autism cloud.
Quite frankly I've been a Debbie Downer of autism. Talking all about how awful it is. How much it has affected my life. How we struggle. How we don't sleep.
And let me tell you, all of those things are true. I'm praying for the day that one day they won't be. After all, I think it would be really cool to get a full nights sleep. I'm a big dreamer like that.
But when it is all said and done we are still here with this elephant on our shoulders. And I am getting pretty fed up with complaining about the elephant.
It's not going anywhere. It's been here for 8 years so I guess it is time to stop complaining about it and start talking about how cool the elephant is.
Afterall, Autism is awesome.
I never thought I would be in a place that I could type that last sentence.
I've cursed autism and tried to tp its house a few times.
It always calls the cops.
But aside from that I am learning that it is pretty great.
Like that Cal imagines things and could care less about what people think of him.
Or how he is so loving. In the photo above he begged me to take a picture of him with all of his friends, isn't that just so presh?
Or that when we fight and yell he just walks around the house yelling "family sticks together" over and over and over. It's from lilo and stitch and it always, always, always brings everything back together.
Or that one time when his sister got mad and decided to run away from home. He threw on boots and a coat and followed her out the door. He is loyal to the very core to that sweet little sister who defends him to the very end.
He is the smartest little boy in the whole wide world.
And the silliest.
And the kindest.
And the scaredest. But we're working on that.
Autism has challenged me to think out of the box in every situation of my life.
Like how I now call chicken ham. You know, because he doesn't eat birds.
Or how I let him wear brown dress shoes with knee socks with gym shorts. We're cool like that. He doesn't care and it takes every fiber in my being to not care either. But I am doing it. You know, because they're comfortable.
Autism Awareness month is for all of us to try to stir up awareness about Autism. Things like, yes my son is still a person who should be treated with respect. No you can't call my son a retard or I will punch you in the face.
That kind of stuff.
But for me it is teaching me how to be aware of just how neat Autism can be.
And for me that is the best awareness of all.