Not a lot makes me cringe more than seeing/hearing/reading a parent of a child with Autism say that they don’t bother with Autism Awareness Day/Month because they don’t feel they should tell others about Autism since it doesn’t affect them.
I’ve read more tweets and posts this month than I’d like to from parents giving a multitude of excuses why they haven’t gotten around to it, or haven’t bothered or feel that they simply shouldn’t attempt to raise awareness of Autism… and that’s kind of sad.
How can a person recognize the signs in their own child unless aware?
There’s a lot of debate within the Autism industry as to whether or not numbers have risen (at least in part) due to the fact that people are simply more aware of what to look for, recognize it earlier and thus, are more likely to get an official diagnosis.
There’s good reason for that debate.. it’s because it’s true that greater awareness is what leads to people being able to understand why their child won’t look them in the eye, doesn’t respond to their name, doesn’t talk yet, separates their blocks by colour and lines up their toys in a perfectly straight line across the living room.
Finding the support and information they need
After a diagnosis, most parents feel extremely lost as they’re put on waiting list after waiting list and worse than finding no answers, they find a lot of contradicting answers.
If you and I didn’t speak out, and speak loudly, they’d never find us. And if they never found us…. well then, they truly would be alone.
Waiting lists don’t explain to parents the benefits of weighted blankets, the gf/cf diet, the necessity for strict routines, how to handle IEP meetings and so on and so on.
Will your child forever be a freak or will people understand him/her better one day?
How can we expect parents to stop judging us and our children during those grocery store meltdowns if they never learn about Autism? How can we expect our childrens teachers to have more patience or even recognize the signs themselves? How can we expect more random people to step up and offer gymnastics, swimming, skating and other community type programs just for our children with Autism… simply because they want to help?
People won’t just look at your children differently… they’ll look at them as weird, freakish or even worse because if they’re not aware, what else are they supposed to think?
No, maybe the meltdown happening in your living room isn’t anyone’s business but that of your own family but that shouldn’t mean not raising awareness at all.
By not doing your part, you may be leaving one troubled child undiagnosed… you may be leaving one parent lost with no one to turn to… you may be letting some innocently ignorant person incorrectly judge another person, making them feel like a terrible parent.
Worse than all of that, you are indirectly affecting your own child’s future because one day your child will have to face those people you didn’t bother to share your burden with and those people won’t understand him/her. Those people will judge your child and judge them harshly.
They say that if one person recycles everything, little change is made in the world but if everyone recycles just one thing, a very significant change is made in the world.
Same goes for Autism Awareness. You don’t have to get on national television or scream from the rooftops… it’s not about invading people’s lives. It’s about sharing so that those that want to listen, those that want to hear it, those that seek it out… can find it.
You may live it every day and those you’re attempting to educate don’t… but maybe they will one day. And maybe, just maybe, your voice will be the voice that makes a positive impact on their lives that lasts a life time.