April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. It is a day to spread awareness about the growing epidemic that is autism.
EVERY DAY is autism awareness day in my house.
Autism is something that has affected my life in a way that I never thought it would. Our autism journey began in 2007 and at the time, I knew absolutely NOTHING about it. My only reference was Rain Man. Even nine years ago, autism wasn’t as prominent as it is today. But through research and experience I have come to learn a lot about autism and I’ve learned that it’s a bitch.
Autism is classified as a spectrum disorder as there are all different forms and severities of it. Some are severe, some not so but all are frustrating and at times, heart breaking.
All three of my littles have autism. My oldest two are high functioning now, but did not start out that way. It took many years of therapy and perseverance for them to get to where they are today. I’m so proud of how far they’ve come and how many of the “nevers” they’ve achieved in their short little lives. I cry over every achievement, no matter how big or small. Not everyone who knows them now, knew them then, when they struggled to belong and find a way to navigate the world. So to see them succeed swells my heart in a way I never thought possible.
My youngest little has severe autism and it breaks my heart every day. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the same services accessible to him as my older children had. He is five, but developmentally is around two years old. He is mostly non verbal, but just recently has started saying words. And it’s been music to my ears. He recently said “mommy” for the first time and it melted my heart. His sweet little voice is so beautiful and I cherish every word he says. He honestly could call me a bitch and I’d probably cry. I just want him to talk!
I’ve learned a lot on our autism journey. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things. I’ve learned that some days are worse than others. I’ve learned to embrace the quirks and stresses that go along with it because frankly, it’s part of the package. I’ve learned that autism does not define a person but is just a part of who they are. I’ve learned to celebrate my children’s strengths and try not to sweat their weaknesses. I’ve learned to accept others ignorance to this disability and try to educate instead of losing my patience. I’ve learned that patience really is a virtue. And most of all I’ve learned that I have a lot more strength than I realized. I have moments of defeat and moments of thinking I can’t handle it but at the end of the day, I can. I’m stronger than I thought and the love I have for my children helps keep me driven.
So on Saturday April 2nd, please wear blue in support of World Autism Awareness Day. And for those of you on your own autism journey, whether it’s just begun or you’re a seasoned veteran, know that you are not alone. And if anyone has questions, comments or is just in need of some support, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org