Saturday, April 2, 2016

I Don't Need a Day #worldautismday

Today is April 2nd. It's World Autism Day.

I shared this on Facebook yesterday:

Facebook was also so kind to remind me that on this day, in years past, I've shared the following:
 And this one too:

I don't need a day to remind me to think about Autism. I don't need to wear blue to be aware of Autism. I live Autism every single day.

Somedays, it's so hard. Other days, it's the easiest thing I've ever done. And I know how very lucky we are. My son is autistic. But he's so much more. Trying to sum him up with that one word is like saying he has blue eyes and expecting you to know everything about him from that one fact. He's entering adolescence, which is going to bring a whole new set of challenges. Especially considering that his body is losing control to hormonal fluctuations while his emotions are still about 3 years behind his chronological age, and he lacks the pragmatic skills to express himself without a whole lot of work on my part.

But he can express himself. And we're working on it. Every day we work on it. Some days are good. Some days are not. Some days the stress of the outside world is almost too much for him.

And we're so lucky. So very lucky. My son is one of the lucky ones. Because yes, he's autistic. But, like I said, he's so much more. He has friends (typical ones). Okay, maybe just one or two friends, but someone he can call for a playdate and they will say yes. He's well liked. He's not thought of as odd. He's in a regular class and is no longer on an IEP. College is in his future. He'll have a career. We have every reason to expect that he'll have a family, if he so desires.

At work, many of my students are not so lucky. Some are non-verbal, or are very limited in their verbal skills. Some are so locked in their own worlds that it's a privilege to be granted entry, even if for a moment. God, what a gift that is to receive, when they let you in. How crushing it is when you see the curtain fall and know you're back on the outside.

I don't need a day to remind me of all the work that parents and teachers and therapists do on behalf of individuals with autism. That is my everyday.

And I don't need a day to remind me of how lucky and how honored I am to know these individuals. I know every single day. Somedays I'm frustrated, and somedays I feel inadequate. But every day I feel and every day I know.