We’re all aware of autism; now let’s do something radical
Awareness months have done their job, but a different approach is needed to make a difference for children with autism and their families.
I settle for the briefest glimpses. I take ridiculous delight in tiny events. A few months ago, Cody was in his class room at school and he was telling his teacher on his iPad he wanted a car. He would take her to the closet and she would give him what was the closest to a car and he would shake his head, “no”. He would then point and go back to his iPad and under the toys folder, he would request for, “bus.” After several attempts she realized he wanted the yellow tractor that was buried in the back of the closet! Cody did not have yellow tractor on his iPad yet and where this may seem frustrating to him and the teacher, I was cheering for joy seeing that Cody for the first time problem solve! My boy had processed the problem and come up with a solution and was persistent until he got the tractor!
The message was clear: If I keep asking for things with wheels I will eventually get the yellow tractor! This was a request, sure, but it was also a plan and a child who did not give up. It was a communication highlight of 2018, and I treasure it forever.
I surround myself with a great tribe of moms and our daily routines are all very different. Our successes and struggles are very different too. We have zero judgement and we all have a very different captain navigating their ship called life. We share, celebrate, seek help and sometime cry but we never compare our captains. It makes me cringe to realize that so many think its Einstein moments only for all children with autism. It’s not. I have learned to turn these moments of action into teaching moments for others. The experience of the high end of the spectrum — and even the middle of the spectrum — is different from my experience. I speak very openly about Cody’s autism and share our CROP moments and our struggles. Sharing our journey is my way of bringing awareness and explaining that no child’s autism is the same. My favorite teaching moments is with Cody’s typical peers. They ask the right questions and very direct questions. Only if our world could increase awareness and education starting at age 5? I will say this year for awareness month I did receive a few photos of my friends children wearing blue at school on awareness day but I want more. We need a world of understanding and not being afraid to connect.
I attended Cameron’s AVID celebration last week at his high school and there was a football athlete that shared a speech with a special needs student on stage. He friended this guy the first week of school at lunch and ensured he had a place at his lunch table the entire school year. His message was challenging others to get to know a person who may have differences. He said,” Where people think I made a difference in his life, he actually made a bigger difference in mine and made me a better man.” Cameron had to sit with his class that night but he texted me as he knew I was crying with joy through his entire message. WE NEED MORE OF THESE PEOPLE.
Our world is silent enough.
So, here is what I want. I challenge you. Share Cody’s journey with someone. Share what you may have captured as an ah ha moment that you learned about autism.
I want a world in which people are kind and accepting of difference.
I want to love and enjoy Cody and celebrate each small connection and accomplishment.
I want myself and other families to have access to affordable resources for their loved ones across the lifespan.
I want more autism research so that we can improve therapies, better understand the brains and find a way to prevent autism in the future.
I want more of those tiny moments when I get the tiniest glimmer of his brain at work.
And, I want more people like Cameron’s friend in AVID.