So its the last day of April and what have we learned? Have we spread awareness, far and wide? Did the puzzle pieces and sea of blue make their mark?
I ask these questions on the last day of Autism Awareness Month, as it makes me wonder if society and the community have learned anything. For us the caregivers and the people that live with Autism, it is never just contained to just one month. It is a 365 days, 12 months, 7 days a week and a 24 hr lifestyle.
For some of us our journey is a tough one. Sometimes that journey challenges us in ways that seem cruel. Cruel in the sense that when we look for support, we are faced with ignorance and skepticism. As caregivers, even within our own community, we sometimes seen as the enemy, when all we want to do is just help our loved ones. For those of us who have gotten to the point of no return, there is ridicule and vilification.
For those who have Autism, does the world truly accept your uniqueness? If it does, why are we still faced with the extreme amount of bullying? People will still look at you like you are not part of their world, even though you are living, breathing human being. People will still continue to use the word "Retard" as an insult, never knowing just what the word actually means. You will always be faced with people saying " Hey you don't look like you have Autism", not realizing that Autism is one of "those" invisible disorders.
So in the past month of promoting Autism Awareness, I ask, just how aware are we? I look back at all the months of April I have supported the cause to bring Autism onto the front stage since my children were diagnosed. Sure the first few, there was a lot of energy put into making sure the puzzle pieces were everywhere and that I had the colour blue lighting up house. But when I began to realize that even with in the Autism Community, we weren't as accepting and supportive, it made me wonder, "Why bother?" I thought if we can't get ourselves in order, then what's the point?
Then it hit me, I don't do this for me. This is not to bring awareness for my plight or my journey. I do this for my children, because as a parent it is my duty to be in my children's corners. As they didn't ask to live on this earth differently from you and I. They are just doing what they must in order to survive. Sometimes they just need a little help doing that.
If I thought for a second that plastering puzzle pieces everywhere and lighting everything I own blue would even make a dent into what society thought about my children or how it treated them, my house would be extremely colourful. Not just for one month.
There is the trick, even as the number of children that are getting diagnosed is raising, it is apparent that society is accepting that change. We still have the ignorance. We still have the misconceptions.
So on the last day of April, as Autism Awareness Month has wound down, I ask just how much has society learned? And just how accepting is it going to be when the number continues to raise and Autism affects those who didn't think was it possible for it happen to them? Will we, the seasoned caregivers, be there to support them as they process just what it is to be a person who loves and cares for our loved ones? Or will we shun them when they ask questions, trying to learn from us, the experienced?
Ask yourself, on this last day of April, just what did you learn?