As I turned the calendar page to May, I thought of this old post that I’d shared with family and friends a few years ago. I wrote it in response to people wanting to celebrate autism during the month of April. I was stunned. Celebrate it? Really?
Well, for a few reasons, including reason #3011.
The other reasons?
The loss of gained skills. The cognitive challenges. And, if I may be so bold, the loss of future potential. Why would anyone ever ask us to celebrate any of that? We can't. And we won't. We will, however, celebrate Ronan and the joy he brings to our lives. And let me tell you, there is so much joy that that little guy brings to our family!
We love to share the joy he brings and will continue to share it.
But the diagnosis itself?
It is not a gift. It's a life-long, challenging disability that keeps a grip on Ronan and our family. Do you celebrate cancer? Diabetes? Alzheimer's? Probably not. So, don't fall for the autism blue washing and autism celebrating that's going to flood the airwaves this month.
What can you do instead?
Help a child.
Learn the signs and symptoms of autism.
Learn how to prevent autism, too. That's possible. We learned too late for our son, but young moms and dads can work to prevent autism better than we ever did. As challenging as life is for us now, more than anything, the thought of others being preventing what we could not keeps me so very hopeful.
Since I wrote that short post, I’ve been focusing on autism action every April. In my opinion, action is a whole lot better than a celebration. It’s better than awareness and acceptance also. It can take careful thought and planning, but I hope that you would consider adopted autism action in your own area. You could even do something today. Helping a family with a child or adult on the spectrum is a simple start. Volunteering at a school or an autism therapy center might be a little challenging, but imagine the insight and experience you’ll gain!
Helping is something that can be done year round, not just for the month of April. So, when you get the chance to perform some sort of autism action, let us know. We’d love to hear what you did and who benefited from your time in our community.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.