I wanted to catch up on the world news
while eating breakfast one morning late last week. Bouncing from one news site to another, I never know what types of stories I’ll find. I hadn’t seen too much autism-specific news this past month, so I did something I don’t love to do. I typed in the word autism in the search bar.
Scrolling past the top search hits – because they read more like sponsored ads than actual news stories, I was pleasantly surprised by a few headlines. I’m usually hesitant to click on a story if I don’t recognize the news outlet because more often than not, mainstream news doesn’t feature our community as kindly as others. The story that drew me in didn’t do that. The more I read, the more I could actually relate to the parent perspective story! It wasn’t the first time that had happened, but it was encouraging to read through another family’s familiar reality.
After describing encounters while he and his son are out in public, the young father shared this advice:
Just be nice.
It’s such simple advice! In fact, it’s the only bit of advice I’d like to also share here today.
Today is May 1st. 2022’s autism awareness month, and that newer, unusual campaign, autism acceptance, ended yesterday. While autism may not have as major of a spotlight in May’s news cycles, it’s still around. Our kids don’t lose their diagnosis nor the great need for support just because the month of April ended. What a different world it would be if their stims, seizures and overloaded sensory systems could give them bit of a break when April 30th rolled around.
We, the weary parents, don’t get to stop advocating or stop looking for resources when we flip to a new calendar page either.
We keep on going.
We keep on working.
We continue to help others in similar situations, too.
It’s business as usual in our households. That’s because for many in our community, our kids have a more severe type of autism than what typically gets featured in news stories. Our kids require care 24/7. With that kind of care, comes great responsibility. Some parents have had to have louder voices to get appropriate assistance. They’ve had to fight hard to maintain educational and medical rights, too. Every family has their own unique struggles, but the families in our community will sometimes go through tougher situations, ones that won’t make it to upbeat news stories or on television series. Thankfully, some people outside of our community recognize that.
Those people offer a kind word or an extended hand to help. Instead of dismissing the growing number of children and families who need assistance, they offer assistance. Instead of judging our kids and their behavior, which happens, they will just be nice in return. And sometimes, like what I saw last week, instead of highlighting just the higher functioning, a reporter will capture the sometimes painful parts of life experience by those on the other end of the spectrum. That kind of reporting, as uncomfortable as it may be for the public to read, is worthy of being shared. So is the great advice that young, young rock star dad offered:
Just be nice.
Today and every day.
Please, and thank you.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdGmQkScgvU (music by the artist interviewed; caution, some flashy lights in the vid)