A few months ago I was in line at the grocery store. I stood behind a woman with three children, two boys and a girl. They looked to be between the ages of 8 and 12. One of her sons was having a full-out meltdown. He did not want to walk. He did not want to get in the cart. He did not want to hold Mom’s hand. He just wanted to sit and rock in the aisle. He wanted to look at the little toys for sale on the rack. I was desperate to show this mom support, but I did nothing more than smile at her, and her children.
April is Autism Awareness Month
For more than months, I have been trying to figure out how to promote this awareness and convey support for my friends with kids that have Autism, and also for the strangers that I don’t know. As always, I turn to the web, talk to friends, do some research, and I begin with my own family. Here is what I have discovered this month that I will continue to use and put in place for the future.
First, in support of friends that have children diagnosed with Autism:
My friend Amy wrote these words on Facebook, “Today has been a frustrating day trying to help others understand the world through the eyes of someone with autism. I am a parent. Not an answer guide. I don’t have all the answers. I wasn’t given a manual on how to raise my child with Autism. I hate to see those around him just give up. They stop trying to understand. They stop trying to communicate with him. They just want to make demands of him that he be like everyone else. “He’s not performing like his peers”…duh! Which is starting to translate into “I feel like I am having to put in too much work.” Stop trying to shove my son into a mold. He wasn’t designed to fit into a mold. God didn’t make him like he made everyone else. He made him exceptional. Stop trying to blame your lack of understanding back on him like it is his fault.”
Realistic Ideas to Support Friends and Family
A quick comment of support goes far. I found an article on AutismSpeaks.com that provides realistic ideas for supporting your friends. Here are 10 Ways to Help and Support an Autism Family.
I was intrigued by another article; this one is from FriendshipCircle.org. It lists 15 Indispensable Websites for Parents of Children with Autism. The first website listed is a link to the National Autism Association where people can search locally for support groups.
One of the most powerful quotes I read (from ExceptionalLives.org) came from an article titled The True Meaning of Autism Awareness Month. It says, “Teach your children about inclusivity, that it is not merely a concept or an accommodation but a lesson in how we treat others.” After that, I went on a quest to find a few really meaningful ways to talk about inclusivity with my daughter. GeekClubBooks.com offers 7 Positive Ways to do Autism Awareness. One way is to use Autism rocks: little decorated stones that promote awareness.
Another way to get the word out to children is to look for Julia, Sesame Street’s newest Muppet diagnosed with Autism. Sesame Street has resources for parents and educators to use, beginning with a video to introduce this adorable new character.
I realize this blog article is a drop in the bucket when it comes to resources, opportunities for support and continued awareness. However, these few resources have provided me with conversation starters within my own family, and they have given me the confidence to actively support my friends and neighbors.
Please don’t stop growing your Autism awareness at the end of April; I know I won’t. As always, your comments are appreciated.