Autism Awareness…are you aware?

Posted: April 2, 2013 in Community, Family
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Well….today is World Autism Awareness Day. It’s a day that means so much to me and my family. It’s a day that allows us to publicly share our family’s dealing with autism, and makes others aware of the day to day struggles that those under the ASD spectrum face.
I’m not going to give you facts and figures with the rates of autism. There are plenty of publications available with that information out there for you to peruse. To be honest, the rates no longer matter to me. We as a family have been living with autism for 19 years now. That’s a number that means something to me. My son is going on 20 this year, and as a young man, he’s doing pretty well, despite the invisible obstacles he faces. Those are facts that mean something to me.
About 15 years ago, a small group of us got together, in our homes, to do something. Autism at the time was still not too commonly known. In our grief, in our panic, we combined our thoughts and ideas, we brainstormed, if you will, and tried to find ways to lead our children down the path that we hoped would be short, but ended up being so long and winding and endless. These are facts that mean something to me.
This group of people fundraised, brought awareness to our community and schools before the epidemic of autism truly manifested itself into what it is today. We built a Snoezelen Room by ourselves, with the help of some community members who took an interest in our cause. We built it for our own children. It has since ended up as a room that has helped so many beyond our group. It is a working, functioning model of what can be done when several groups combine efforts and focus them on a common goal. These are facts that mean something to me.
My wife got her own official diagnosis of Asperger’s two short years ago. It’s a diagnosis which has explained so much to us as a couple and as a family. It has allowed a great person to bloom in the understanding that she now has an explanation for behaviours previously misunderstood, that allows her to function better, that gives her credibility in a field where she excels, and allows her the leeway to assist others who have autism. These are facts which mean something to me.
My son Alex is in college, and is holding down a 3.94 average. He has been published province-wide, and has done several placements and volunteering stints in the field which he is training, including working with children with autism….which is awesome He writes as a hobby, and should he ever choose to publish those stories, I think he could make a living at it. However, despite his successes, his label is one which is a HUGE roadblock. This is why we need awareness. Our kids aren’t dumb. They need to be understood. These definitely are facts which mean something to me.
All in all, we’ve come a long way. We’ve turned a mystery into a little bit less mysterious. The resources are out there for everyone to educate themselves. Autism is not an excuse, it’s an explanation. With understanding, support, and hope, we can turn things around and more often make tax payers instead of tax payers. There will always be exceptions.
We hope you can undersatand.

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