Autism Awareness Day

April 2 is recognized as Autism Awareness Day, but as a mother of a child with autism, every day is April 2nd for me. Too many people still don’t understand what autism is and what it isn’t. They don’t understand the vastness of it, how many different kinds of kids fall under the great umbrella that is autism.

Our kids are not broken. They are not the ones with the problem, it is the public perception of our kids that is wrong. At a health fair last year, I had to explain that our kids aren’t stupid or retarded (the connotation that word has makes me furious), but that they process everything differently, deal with it differently. Yes, there are savants along the lines of Rainman and there are kids who will never talk or lead what we think of as normal lives, but all of our kids are beautiful and special and deserve respect and understanding. There are so many different faces of autism and nine times out of ten, you wouldn’t know them just to pass them on the street.

Yes, I will wear blue on Saturday in honor of Autism Awareness day, and I hope you all will too. Yes, I will tell everyone I know to do the same. Here’s the thing – autism is everywhere. It effects so many more people than ever before and it’s our job as parents, advocates, loved ones, and friends, to make sure the rest of the world understands what autism is and what it isn’t. It’s our duty to correct those misconceptions the public seems to have. It’s our job to stand up and be heard because some of our kids can’t or won’t do it for themselves.

I am including a link to some free autism awareness cards and I challenge you all to print out a few and give them to people not just on April 2nd, but any day – the cashier at the grocery store, leave it with your tip at a restaurant, anyone you end up having a conversation with. Educating someone today could mean that, tomorrow, someone with autism might find understanding from a stranger. You can use the ones I’ve listed or write your own – a business card size seems to be the most convenient.

http://www.dotolearn.com/disabilities/autismcard.htm

http://www.paains.org.uk/Autism/cards.htm

http://www.bridges4kids.org/AutismCards.pdf

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