You see folks changing from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month. I want to share with you why I choose action.
I always wanted to be a mom. I dreamed about it playing with dolls since I was a little girl. When I became a mom, acceptance was the bare minimum of what I felt. It was a feeling that came naturally. I was in awe and love. I was dreaming big! These two kids will be president of the U.S. – my daughter Lauren first because she was the oldest then my son Jeff. They will change the world.
When your child regresses and is diagnosed with a disability, the world becomes a scary place. It’s scary because the experts who went to school and had degrees told you the worst-case scenarios at every appointment. There were hundreds of appointments. I vividly remember those days: there was very little hope.
In this process, acceptance never left my heart and mind. But what changed was lighting a fire in my soul. During the early years, it felt like many gave up on my kid. I would not. There were dark times and days. With hard work, the days got brighter, and the “never will do” list got smaller.
What I realized as a parent was that I had acceptance and unconditional love. The harsh reality is I knew our world did not. The reality was I could work to help my kid acquire skills, learn and get healthy. By working this hard, it would help him have the best life possible and be a powerful member of our community. This is what I could do. It would be small compared to how hard my kid would work.
When I mentioned I dreamed big, I’ve got to be honest; it’s better than what I dreamed. My inspiration every day is a smart, handsome, funny, caring adult who is in college to change the world. I couldn’t be prouder. I can’t wait to see what he does next. (Truly I am still liking that president idea!) His sister is truly awesome as well.
In this journey, I realize that it’s not about me and my feelings. It’s my actions – my actions for my kids. It is also about action for others the 1 in 54 living with autism (1.)
So why use action over awareness or acceptance? Because most of the parents in the autism community I know are aware and accept their kids. They have unconditional love. Their family and neighbors are aware – some accept. We know the harsh reality that the world is a tougher place. We will work hard to build awareness and acceptance. We know action is better.
That is why in 2012, TACA changed our stance for April to Autism Action Month. We feel awareness and acceptance are nice. We appreciate it. You can do awareness by picking up your phone and liking a post and learning a fact. In addition to awareness and acceptance, we are requesting action. You know what you can do. If you need help on your action, consider volunteering or offering to help a family with children diagnosed with autism. Teach your kids how to befriend and care for someone that can be different in some ways into adulthood. Invite special needs kids to playdates or birthday parties. Ask your Human Resource department about inclusion strategies on employment. Fundraise in honor of someone you love. There are hundreds of actions. Pick what you can do and ask others to do the same. We have a list of ways you can help here (2.) After all, you have eight days left in #AutismActionMonth (3.)
- 1 in 54: https://tacanow.org/about-autism/autism-prevalence/
- Ways to support: https://tacanow.org/ways-to-help/
- Autism Action Month efforts: www.tacanow.org