I realized when I woke up on Sunday morning that it was not only already October 1st, the beginning of another month, but also another beginning: the month of celebrating and bringing attention to Autism Awareness in Canada. It is not enough that people know about autism and want to help children hone their strengths and work on their weaknesses. It is also important that people are reminded that those with autism do not need or want to be changed. They do not need to be fixed. They need to be understood for the way their unique brain perceives the world, and the quirky way they see things happening around them.
As parents, we all go through the “why my child?” at the beginning of their diagnosis. We are worried about them standing out, being different than other kids, and about all the little things that they need time to learn over their peers. We fear autism. It is apart from us, from who we are, from how we learn, unless of course you as a parent realize that perhaps you have autism too or are close enough on that spectrum to see markers. It has happened. Then, as your child grows, you begin to see how they perceive the world, and the gifts or strengths they have, can really make a difference and make them a contributing member of society. Sadly, when less was known about autism so many individuals were at first written off by the medical community as not being able to wokr or live independently. Think Temple Grandin and Donna Williams. They are both teachers, writers and Temple Grandin is a animal scientist who talk and inspire families of autistic individuals with hope and excitement about the possibilities as long as we pay attention to what the individual can do instead of what they cannot. This is mandatory.
As Michael’s Mom, a title I love to be known by, I am proud to tell the world of his different brain now and share how he sees the world in his unique way, sometimes amazing, sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, but heck, aren’t we all a little of each at tiemes? The first thing that surprises people is how social Michael is, and they fall in love with his joy for life, navigating, food and music. He is helpful, active and wants to explore. When I told him he had autism, I also made sure to tell him he can do anything he puts his mind too, as long as he adapts learning it to the best way he learns. People around us in our family and society are seeing that. They are seeing there are so many different ways to teach and learn. This is the message I want to leave people with this month. Do not limit your child ever due to their autism. Do not listen to people who try to discourage you from what they may not do. Go with your gut as their parent and advocate. Help them find and hone their passions. Praise all their efforts, and above all, let them be your guide in the world too. See the world through their eyes and fall in love with it. You have been given a gift to have a special child like this. It will open your eyes to seeing the world in a whole new way and take you down a path you never thought possible. Help others see this too. Until next time.