Today is autism awareness day. Throughout the day I’ve pondered what this means. I’ve arrived at the answer: so much! Such an amazing place to be in for kids who are being diagnosed now. There are people that are acknowledging autism. That is huge. 10, 20, 30 years ago this would have never have happened. Yet it is happening today. That deserves its own celebration! I’m constantly taken aback by the strength that those who have carried the sign, ‘my child has autism’ around for awhile now. There was a time not too long ago when the word ‘autism’ was simply not uttered. Definitely not understood. I’ve learned so much from the few who have walked on this path before me.
As much as I am grateful for today, there is something voracious that has been eating away at every corner of my soul. We are all doing so much, but, it just doesn’t seem like enough sometimes. There are days that the depth of the pain that I feel for my son who has autism is just too much to bear. Not just my own son, but the community of amazing children with autism and their families who have become my community. Some of these children have learned how to adapt and communicate within the various communities in which they exist, yet some are so grossly misunderstood and isolated. Behind each one of these children that the label, ‘autism’ is adhered to, stands a parent, or two, a family, and hopefully their own community of supporters.
Why is today so inspiring yet so unsettling then? Because, it’s not just about awareness, it’s about acceptance. It’s about us reaching out to the person next to us, regardless of what their diagnosis is, be it autism, cancer, or epilepsy…and just loving them. Being able recognize that each one of us has strengths and weaknesses and being able to eventually see beyond that to see and hear about each other. There is just so much to learn from each other. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that because of today and the next 364 days, that one year from now we will have achieved incredible steps towards more acceptance.
The gratitude that I have for those around me who continually accept, embrace, and love my family is overwhelming. Especially today, April 2nd, 2013, autism awareness day. And also on traumatic brain injury awareness day, March 13th, 2013.