Tuesday, 01 May 2012
As we leave behind yet another Autism Awareness month, I’m reflecting on what that really means.
While I love the t-shirts, the puzzle pieces and the blue light bulbs because they shed light on what I believe is the most serious epidemic of our time, I hope that our society’s “awareness” lasts beyond the month of April.
It’s easy to put a bumper sticker on your car in support of a neighbor’s child, but do you also speak to your own child about being kind to a classmate with autism. It’s easy to post Autism Awareness status updates on Facebook, but are you patient with the bagger at your local grocery store who has Aspergers.
One of my biggest fears as a mother of a child with autism (and I know we have many!) is “how will my son fit into our society?” Will he be ridiculed and bullied in school?
Will he be accepted in the workplace?
Will his community look passed his differences and see him for the amazing, bright, incredible child that he is?
We at the Autism Society, Tidewater chapter, have begun a new Autism Awareness School Program over the last few months. We have gone into schools (elementary and middle schools) and churches to promote autism awareness.
The program has received wonderful feedback! It’s a short, age-appropriate presentation followed by a showing of the award-winning DVD “How to be a Good Friend Forever!” Our hope with this program is to promote a real and lasting autism awareness. One that will teach children, while they are young and most impressionable, that it’s ok to be different.
We hope these kids take our message with them throughout their school years. We hope this will reduce the bullying of our children. We hope the kids who hear this message will keep it in their hearts. That with the help of their parents and teachers, these kids will become adults
who will open their hearts to our special kids as they enter adulthood, and no longer have us around to shield them from the outside world.
Is this a tall order? No doubt! But I believe if we can spread TRUE awareness, an awareness and an understanding that becomes a part of people’s everyday lives long after the blue light bulbs have burned out, then we will be making the world our children will grow into a better place for them.
And that hope will help me sleep a little easier tonight.