As we near the mid point of Autism Awareness Month (also Parkinson’s Disease Month), it is worth reflecting on what it means to be impacted by Autism. For those who have Autism or love someone with Autism (or any other condition), it is not about a month, week or day, it is about one foot in front of the other, day by day, even on days that are not an arbitrary point of awareness. Though the awareness benchmarks are useful to bring public attention to a condition or cause of choice, attention and understanding appear not to go hand in hand.
On March 29, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders is now 1 in 88 children; 1 in 54 for boys. When our daughter was diagnosed with Autism in 2005, the Autism prevalence was 1 in 150 kids, then a couple of years later, it changed to 1 in 110. It certainly begs the question, “Why?”, because better diagnosis in not the whole answer. There are causes for the symptom of Autism.
While “Why?” is an important question, awareness or (more importantly than awareness) compassion for those impacted by Autism (including the family as a whole) must be addressed. This condition carries with it many decades of ugly discrimination and blame the family mentality. …but this is 2012, that’s over, right? Not! A recent post on a Facebook Autism page caught my attention, when a person commented that in their opinion, Autism should be called “TVism” because using the TV as a baby sitter and not cuddling our children is the reason for Autism. I don’t think the person meant to be hurtful, rather they were ill-informed. While there are various reasons not to over expose our children and ourselves to too much TV, as well as a myriad of other electronics, this person’s statement seemed to hold a judgment of Autism families. Indeed, it hearkened back to the bad old days of blaming Autism on unloving “refrigerator moms”. I know countless loving Autism parents who ache to bond with their children. At 18 months old, Autism enveloped our daughter, in spite of the fact that she was cuddled so much, that in that time that her feet rarely touched the ground. Indeed, at 17 months old, as I held our daughter as I showed her various flowers in our garden, she looked at me and said with pristine pronunciation, “I love my Momma.” A month later, she went silent.
It is one thing to be aware, but it is another thing to show compassion. I recall a few months ago, being exhausted after a long day that was part of a long week of therapies and medical tests on our daughter. We waited in line, practically counting down the minutes until we would be home. The person whose job it was to keep the line moving was chatting as people passed her check point. This was a common routine for her, but we were simply to tired to talk. As we passed her check point displaying the required identification, then kept going, she ran after us and said, “For educated people, you sure are antisocial!” We didn’t know what to say to that, and found ourselves explaining various things that we had been through recently, including a death in the family. She then began to critique what we told her, implying that it was not a sufficient level to be too exhausted to socialize with her. We left in stunned silence, utterly perplexed as to why she thought our world should revolve around her desire to chat. This just shows how much work still needs to be done in the understanding of Autism and Autism families.
Indeed, regardless of condition (Autism, Parkinson’s, Renal Failure, Cancer, etc.), I urge everyone reading this to treat people as they (those individuals) would wish to be treated. If you like to have companionship and socialize, when you are stressed or ill, I hope that universe will provide for you the people to support that desire. That said, if you see someone else struggling with Autism, kidney dialysis, chemotherapy or whatever, please keep an open mind and heart. Perhaps they could use someone to talk to, perhaps they could use help with a chore, like mowing the lawn, but also perhaps they simply need space and quiet to recharge themselves. If alone time is what they need, it is not an affront to you, so please grant them space without recrimination.
Look at it this way, a sign may make you “aware” of a speed bump, but if you do not process that information into understanding that you must reduce your speed, you can do great damage to your car. Strive to understand the needs of others and act accordingly, and it is my wish that I send out to the universe that others will show you the same consideration and compassion to abide by your wishes for yourself.
For information on April Autism and special needs events, click here.
Reminder: 12 for 2012 for Autism Scholarships continues.
This merchant will donate “an amount equal to 10% of the retail price for all products tagged with “autismawareness2012” sold through the merchant’s marketplace during April 1, 2012 through April 30, 2012 will be donated to the following two Autism charities. Proceeds will be equally split between Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy Network.”
Additionally, we, Fetch It Fido LLC, are donating a minimum of 10% of profits to various charities, including (but not limited to) various Autism charities.
NOTE: This merchant also has awareness items for a variety of causes and conditions (Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer, AIDS, Food Allergies, etc.), Non-Profits (AIDS Walk, Animal Rescue, Save Darfur, UNICEF, and many more), as well as TV and movie related items from (Once Upon A Time, Big Bang Theory, Greys Anatomy, Princess Bride, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, etc. Hence, when you buy through our Fetch It Fido link, 10% of all Fetch It Fido LLC profits from the sale of any type of item go to various charities.