Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Autism Awareness Day

The official date for Autism Awareness is April 2nd.  I don’t need a date on the calendar to make me aware, as EVERY day I see it in the face of my 14 year old son.  Don’t think the irony of the official day being the day after April Fool’s Day is lost on me, either.  As my son drifts in and out of developmental progression and regression, I have learned to always be on my toes, like a nimble court jester, for whatever comes next.  As a parent of an autistic child, you find each day to be the strangest two-steps forward / two-steps back dance you’ve ever done.


While the diagnosis of autism and ultimate life commitment to dance alongside the affected person you love may have heartache and missteps as you go, there is also a tremendous amount of joy and laughter along the way, too.  The trick is, to be prepared to swing in a new direction if the music demands.


Early on, my son’s inability to communicate (due to language processing difficulties) left him filled with rage, as he lashed out at others and himself.  Self-injurious behavior was a daily occurrence as he banged his head, punched himself or slammed his body into walls and I was called to the elementary school more times than I care to recall if a classmate got in the way.  With time and the onset of language, the rage dissipated and my boy was able to make his desires and frustrations known [and if that isn’t a neon signpost to the rest of us to learn to “use our words” – I don’t know what is].


My son’s ability to communicate still isn’t where the world and state academic requirements demand that a 14 year old be.  But, he can still convey thought and emotion with the best of them, usually with a tart twist that is just delicious.  One of my all-time favorite stories involving the filter that my son processes information through is one that his junior high teacher considered an epic fail.  Apparently, when presented with a story that he was supposed to re-tell, he moved on to the next step of the process, completely ignoring the task-at-hand.  It went something like this:


Mary Grace drew a picture of dinosaurs to share with the class which made everyone laugh.  Now, what did I say?”


“Maybe if she’d learn to draw better, nobody would make fun of her.”


While the teacher was incredibly disappointed at my son’s failure to relay information appropriately, I love the fact that he plowed forward coming to a conclusion that was all his own.  Where she saw the autistic mind moving backward, I saw progression.  My high school Logic & Philosophy teacher probably would’ve loved this kid.  I know I do.


This April 2nd, join me as I raise my mug of tea high in the air to all of the parents, educators, therapists, families and friends who are acutely aware of they dance they do everyday with those they love with autism.  Feel free to cut in at any time and join us, inviting others to do the same.  With awareness, we can partner together to move forward, where autism is concerned.

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