Why Awareness Still Matters

As parents, friends, advocates, and loved ones, we all know what autism is, what therapies are involved, and the enormous financial burden that comes with it. The general public is only beginning to understand the whole picture. Most people still have no clue. Humans are inherently self-centered. If it doesn’t touch their life, they tune it out. We all do it all the time and don’t even realize it.

The community has come a long way in even just the last decade in getting people to understand some of what autism is, who our kids are beyond that diagnostic label. Now, autism is everywhere. In movies, books, television, characters with autism are becoming more prevalent and not just the savant types, but all over the spectrum. Some politicians are beginning to understand, others will never get it because they know the majority of their constituents are more interested in the bottom line or their own gains to care and that makes autism a non-issue for them.

With education comes understanding, with understanding comes empathy, with empathy comes funding on the local, national, and global scales. People will fund cancer research without question because the odds are, they know someone who has had cancer and seen the ravages of the disease. People will fund animal associations because they have likely seen abused, starving animals either in person or on TV. If people understand the realities of autism, the cost to the family, the difference a little therapy and training can make, logic dictates that the model will hold true, that they will be more willing to donate funds to research and local programs.

Looking at the big picture, awareness is a big part of making progress in this fight. We are fighting for our kids rights, for their health, for their welfare, for help to get them the therapy that can make the difference between dependence and independence. If we want to reach those people who can help us fight, we have to educate them, show them what we face, what our kids are capable of. Make them aware of the potential as well as the realities. Make them care one. You can’t raise funds to help families struggling under medical bills unless people care enough to donate. You can’t push congress to enact bills that will help unless enough of their constituents care enough to make it matter. Making a difference for the future begins with educating as many people as we can. Tell your story, your whole story – the good and the bad. Tell it honestly and often. Not just today, not just this month, but all the time.

We cannot ask for understanding if we are not willing to teach. Be a teacher today, tomorrow, everyday.

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