I’ve been thinking for several days about writing this post. I thought, maybe I’ll write it for Autism Awareness Day. #autismawareness and #autismawarenessday were trending all over social media…
But you know what?
Everyday is Autism Awareness Day in my life. Every. Single. Day.
My 7 year old son has autism. He’s mostly non-verbal. And by that I mean he has a handful of words he uses semi-regularly–No, Mine, Hungry, Bye Bye See You Soon. He CAN say about 30-40 more, but does so only on his terms.
Some days that means he says all 40 of his words in a single day, but most days it’s more like 3 or 4. He’s never said “I love you, Mommy.”
He’s never said “Mommy.”
But he has an amazing smile and loves to laugh. And he gives the tightest hugs on this earth. He’s super strong and loves his little sister with a fierceness that makes my heart hurt.
He hasn’t got the hang of potty training yet, but he can dismantle anything in about 5 seconds flat. And I do mean ANYTHING! The boy has a talent for destruction. He can, and has, broken so many things… The nickname “Destructo” was earned, believe me.
Clothing tends to be optional here at home. It must all be tagless, preferably dryfit type material, and it absolutely, positively CANNOT have buttons. Silly people putting buttons on clothes…
Family outings are a success if no one leaves the playing injured or crying, and are deemed doable or not based on the likelihood of sending him into an all out meltdown. Crowds are a no-no. Fluorescent lights? Nope. And if it’s loud? How about a “Hell no.”
We go to the zoo a lot. And we spend a lot of time in our own yard, because he dearly loves to swing.
If you have friends or family for whom autism has touched their lives, please don’t be insulted if they turn down your invitations for birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese. Don’t get upset if they show up late, cancel at the last minute, or leave early for a play date.
We’d love to celebrate those special occasions with you, but not all children enjoy noise. Not all children like to socialize. Some of them have very serious dietary restrictions that make birthday parties a nightmare. For example, my kiddo is gluten free, dairy free AND allergic to peanuts, egg, and soy. Is it fair to have him watch the other kiddos eat cake while he’s sitting there without? Nope…
A celebration should be a happy time for all children, not a torture for one. And we’d rather miss it than have our kiddo be the one throwing cake at people because he’s over-stimulated. (Not saying this has happened or anything…At least not often.)
So, be aware of what you are asking. Be aware of how these things affect not just the autistic child, but their family and siblings. If you want them to be included, ask how you can make things easier on their child.
Be aware every day. Not just because it’s “Awareness day” or “Autism month”.
ByeBye See You Soon.