What do you think of when you hear someone say Autism? Is it Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise? Or is it Jenny McCarthy? Or is it all those news reports that tell you about families that have struggled to the point of no return? Or do you have sympathy and think to ask "Gosh, I don't know how you do it?"
For me it when I hear the word Autism spoken, I think of my children. I think of all those who are in my life that have it. I think about how different each and every one of those kids are. You see, people with Autism are living, breathing human beings just like you and I. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to the wonderful world of Autism. People think that if they have read something or met one person with Autism, they know all about what it is. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. For us caregivers, it would be nice if the world could see what we see in our loved ones. But the world sees misconceptions.
The type of Autism that is my world is actually two types. I have two very distinctly different kinds of Autism living in my house. Sure they share a diagnosis, but they are uniquely different. What this means for me, is that I have to gear myself for different possibilities or scenarios for two children. One bolts, the other doesn't. One thrives on loud, illuminated stimuli, and the other wants nothing to do with loud and lit up. One eats everything on their plate, where the other only eats foods that are white. One is calm and the other is whirlwind that is never ending. You get the picture.
So when I ask, "What do you think of when you hear someone say Autism?", I want you to expand what you thought of. I want you to look past those stereotypes. I want you to look past the diagnosis. What I want you do is to see people for who they are. Accept them and the ones that love them. I want you to see the Soft side of Autism. That side that is full of love and compassion. That side that is the child who wants to cuddle and give hugs and kisses. The side of Autism that just wants friends and people who support them. That soft side of Autism that we, the caregivers, remember and cherish when times are tough. When people are giving us a hard time as we try to maintain a meltdown and the general public doesn't understand. That softer side that we hold so dear, when people down us for how we deal with our children.
The soft side of Autism are those children who strive to be part of this world and it's societies. The soft side of Autism is those who will love and support these amazing people. The soft side of Autism is the side we wish the world would see.