By Lisa Ackerman
Part of my efforts at TACA is building autism awareness. This effort includes visiting and speaking to many businesses and professional organizations (such as Rotary and other clubs.) When I go to speak (about 3-6 times a month), rarely do I find a person NOT touched by autism. You can always find aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends to a child with autism in the audience. There are also several parents. It’s no longer necessary for them to tell me that they have a child diagnosed with autism. We have the same look and immediately bond, no words are required.
When TACA began in 2000, I would always start these educational talks with a question: “who knows someone with autism?” Back then, maybe 10-15% of the audience raised their hands. I found myself having to spend a lot of time explaining what autism was. Now, when asking that question, almost everyone raises their hand. Most of the questions asked are of a support nature, unique to that family.
A once rare disorder has now become an epidemic. Yet, it seems to me that very few around us really care. Could be that we are in shock or are people accepting a disability as the new “normal” (please say no!)? We need to push for answers for families living with autism. This is not the new normal, but an epidemic of kids who must deal with many issues.
As part of Autism Action Month, we need a-c-t-i-o-n. This is our month. This is our time for families living with autism. The only way change occurs is by having your voice heard. How do you get started? Start by knowing the issues (1) and contact your state and federal representatives. Tell your family’s story. Ask them to act not only for the families living with autism today, but for the ones coming tomorrow.
Then get more active after you write or visit your representatives and get the word out to others about the needs of families living with autism. TACA has 8 ways to engage (2.) We need all our friends on deck to support. This is our month. Don’t let it slip by.