What Autism Awareness Means

April is autism awareness month.  Personally, I find it to be a giant marketing tool.  Slap a blue ribbon, a blue light, or a blue puzzle piece on something and BAM!  Awareness!

A friend of mine, who is a breast cancer survivor, commented that she felt the same way, because “nothing says ‘support breast cancer research’ like a pink ribbon on the side of a KFC bucket.”

So, here is what autism looks like in our house.

Autism collage of stuff

At our house, autism is music, Darth Vader, lightsabers, sharks, Batman, soft fluffy things, LEGO, books, art – all the things that Tad and Thumper love so much that help them get through each day.

Our boys are so much more than their diagnoses.  I have had so many of Tad’s former teachers and therapists tell me that whenever they see a shark, they think of him.  There are friends on Facebook who tag me with the next cool Batman item that they know he would love.  Another friend on Facebook said, “I think of your family whenever I hear Star Wars, and I don’t even know your boys!”  Thumper’s teacher told me that he broke out singing the Imperial March on Monday in class.  I only wondered what took him so long.

Real autism awareness begins in thinking of the individual with autism and remembering what makes them special.

It means that instead of wearing a blue puzzle piece, you wear a Batman shirt.

November 2014

(Photo taken by Rerun in November 2014)

Or a Star Wars shirt.  Or shark tooth earrings.  (I found a pair that I like and showed them to the Webmaster.)  For me, it means embracing what my kid loves.  (The fact that Thumper is all about music and Star Wars is a bonus for me, since I already liked those things myself.  I was never deeply into Batman, and I knew almost nothing about sharks, so Tad’s preferences were all new to me.)

It means forgetting the stereotypes and thinking about the person.  Some qualities and preferences will be more unique than others.  But they are what makes that person happy, or content, or simply cope with life.

And every one of us, whether we are on the spectrum or neurotypical – we could all use a little bit more empathy, a little bit more grace, a little bit more understanding on what makes us tick.

Because every single one of us is a unique creation of God.

One Response to “What Autism Awareness Means”

  1. Linda Lansberry
    April 6th, 2016 07:23