Facebook is abuzz with posts about autism awareness. Buildings are lighting up in blue to show support for autism, while Twitter is chirping with the hashtags #autism and #awareness. There are hundreds of events around the country celebrating that more and more people know what autism is. Frankly, I think you’d have to be a hermit not to have heard of autism by now. The problem is that nobody seems concerned about how common autism has become.
I’m still waiting for the part where our government and the general public wake up and realize that what was considered a “rare disorder” when my boys were diagnosed 14 years ago, is now affecting children in every neighborhood in America.
Actually, in my neighborhood, counting my boys, there are eight kids on the spectrum. Eight children! And only one is high-functioning enough that you wouldn’t immediately know he’s on the spectrum. The general disregard for the increased numbers of people with autism baffles me. It is, as my son Don would say, an “Epic Fail! “
So even if we can’t get others interested in why there’s an increase in autism prevalence, I thought I should write the truth about what our families need, so that those who do care can really help. This is my list, but please add your thoughts in the comment section below and share this on social media so that other families affected by autism can chime in about what helps them the most. And make sure it gets to your friends and families so that our support networks are activated.
What does the family of someone significantly impacted by autism wish for?
1) Our children with autism need friends – There are no two ways about it. Our kids don’t have the friends that they need and deserve. As parents with children older than five or six, it is really uncomfortable for us to ask other parents for playdates, knowing that initially our kids will probably ignore your kids or may not have the attention to complete an activity. Our kids are kind, naïve, and often have great, if quirky, senses of humor. Can you please ask us to get together – and keep asking – and keep asking? Can you please invite our kids to parties or movies or whatever? It takes time for our kids to feel comfortable with others and this gets harder and harder as the kids get older. And once our kids age out of school at 21, they may lose what friends they had, as those friends go off to college – so please stay in touch! Read more here.