Oh April, Autism Awareness Month.
I have mixed feelings about you.
You see, I am never unaware of autism.
When I answer the same questions 1,980,674 a day from my little boy with autism, it’s impossible to be unaware.
Or when I help him go over his schedule 630,238 times a day. My husband looks at me and says, “It’s so bad right now.” He means the OCD behaviors. That is just a bonus thing to be aware of with an autism diagnosis. Anxiety is right up there, too.
Yes, then I am very aware.
My boy with autism. Or my autistic boy. This is a very important thing.
One is a person first, after all, he is a boy who just happens to have autism.
The other is an all-encompassing identity worn with pride.
I wish we didn’t have to choose. Can’t it be both? I want both for him.
There is no right answer, but people will tell you otherwise each way you choose.
Maybe someday my boy will tell me his preference.
Just like someday he will answer his dad when he asks him what he did at school that day.
Every day he is met with silence and a smile. Some day.
A lot of autistic adults really want to skip the whole awareness thing and have everyone move right on into acceptance. That sounds ideal to me, but I really don’t see how one can happen without the other.
So, we talk about autism to spread awareness.
It does get a little exhausting, I will be honest.
The repetition, the hope, the advocacy on eggshells.
But I get excited, thinking about more people joining in on this awareness thing.
I can start to see a world where communication without words is commonplace.
And maybe things like atypical eye contact wouldn’t be a thing, and maybe parents like us wouldn’t hear that word, ATYPICAL, so damn much.
In this world I see, people would understand that sensory processing is so different for everyone. It can be downright painful for some, and never given a second thought by others.
People would be better about not taking the little things in life for granted, like outings outside of the home that for some, like my boy, require navigating a battlefield of anxiety, sensory input, and communication barriers.
They’d know that nonspeakers still FEEL greatly.
There would be just enough awareness for people to be kind and patient with those who are different.
Yes, that world would be so nice.