Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Autism Awareness is Every Month when Your Child has Autism


This post was originally published on April 6, 2011 as a featured article for Autism Awareness at Moms LA.
April is Autism Awareness month, and it’s been amazing to see the amount of awareness that there is today. Autism Speaks has been heading up this campaign, and I must say they have done a super job of spreading the word. They helped shine a light on autism by ‘Lighting it Blue’ on over 1,000 buildings around the world. I’ve been inundated with autism awareness on my Facebook page by some of my favorite Facebook friends (and they know who they are!). I’m a huge LA Clippers fan, and the announcers even talked about autism during the game on April 2nd against the Oklahoma Thunder. The Clips won too. Chalk that one up to autism empowerment!
When my son was first diagnosed in 1997, I was anything but aware. Jacob’s behaviors were challenging, but he wasn’t anything like the character in Rainman. Jacob could talk.  He played with other kids. He could be a handful, but nothing about his development really alarmed me. His pediatrician didn’t even pick up on anything. I was the first person I knew to have a child diagnosed with autism, so it was a new world that I was entering. When it happened, I didn’t know other parents that I could ask questions or people to go to for support.
                This picture was taken right before Jacob was diagnosed.
In the 15 years since I heard the words “Your son has autism”, I’ve been aware of autism each and every day. There never has been a moment when I’ve not been aware. It’s the same for every family that is touched by autism. For us, autism awareness is a constant state of being, something we wake up to every morning and go to sleep with every night.
It’s great that the Empire State Building was lit up blue for autism. In terms of awareness, it was great to hear Ralph Lawler mention during the Clipper’s game that the rate of autism is one out of 110 individuals. I am happy that I’ve made so many nice friends on Facebook from my involvement of the autism community. This is all good stuff.
But to be aware of autism, to really know it’s effects, that’s something you have to experience firsthand. For every parent of every child with autism, we’re not just aware, we live it.
Yes, I have been aware of autism every day for the last 13 years. And for every parent of every child with autism, they are never not-aware.
For parents like us, it’s Autism Awareness every day of every month, 365 days of every year

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