Thursday, October 1, 2009
Well, it's October 1st, so Autism Awareness Month is just begun. Sometimes I can't help but wonder what our goals are in this. Don't get me wrong, I am all for Autism Awareness, and like to think that through my blog I help raise awareness about autism. But, my aim is not just to make people aware of how widespread, and crazily common autism is. It's not that I don't think that's important, it's just that I can't help but feel that people aren't too concerned about it until it affects them directly. None of us think these things are actually going to affect our kids...until they do. I'm no different here from anybody else. Due to my career, I was interested in various exceptionalities prior to my boy's diagnosis of AS, but I wasn't out waving flags. It's just human nature I think.
Perhaps the goals of autism awareness should be for the public to understand what autism actually is. Maybe the challenges of autism families should be better known, so that the public would have more empathy in general. And so that society and governemts could know which supports need to be in place, and actually put them there.
Maybe we need to change the way we think about autism. Yes, it's a disability, but when soooo many people have it, it has in many ways become a new way of being in this world. So, maybe people need to be aware of, and accept that. Maybe people need to challenge the notion of "normal"...how's that for awareness?
I mean, the truth is, even the autism community can't agree on what awareness should look like. Just look at all the controversy Autism Speaks sparks! I'm not positioning myself one way or the other, but they certainly draw attention to the fact that not everybody agrees on what our message is!
I know what my message is. At the last event we attended at the local autism society, I was personally just struck by all these little boys. Everywhere you look, all these little boys. All of them working so hard to deal with their ways of being different in an intolerant world. All these little boys, so loved, yet so challenging, and so joyous to their families.
We do need awareness, but what we also need is the understanding and support to go along with it.