April is Autism Awareness month, and as a mom to a person with autism, I know I need to do my part in spreading awareness. I have been brain storming on how to adequately do this all month…hence April is almost over and I have yet to spread awareness. This week, it is finally all coming together, bear with me please.
First, I KNOW I need to spread awareness because there are so many misconceptions about autism. Had we continued to listen to them, our son might not have gotten diagnosed until he was much older, missing out on the EXTREMELY IMPORTANT early therapies. (He is a poster child for the importance of early intervention.) Plus, our autism story includes a respected state examiner telling us that our son was fine, just mathematical like his dad. SERIOUSLY. Luckily, we didn’t listen and got our son diagnosed by a private psychologist.
Now, when a parent asks me questions about autism, and explains the signs they see, I tell them, “Listen to your mommy gut. You know your kid and you know when something isn’t right.” Pursue testing and do everything you can to get your child therapies and interventions. Even if it isn’t autism, try to get the inconsistencies worked out. It will help your child in the long run.
Anyway, this post is not about our journey, or getting a child identified. This is about the “famous puzzle” and all of the puzzle items that one can buy to spread awareness. It completely and utterly annoys me.
First of all, I GET THAT all people with autism are different. There is not one definite sign of autism, but more of a combined list that is different for each individual. I also understand that I am a mom of child with high functioning autism, so my world is different than the world of a mom whose child has classic autism. I have even been told by members of the autism community that high functioning autism doesn’t quite fit in. Pfft, whatever. I know what I have gone through with my child and I know what it is like to have a child both on and off the spectrum.
Moving on to the puzzle piece and why it annoys me…
Each day I look at BOTH of my kids and wonder what makes them tick. I wonder why my daughter can’t seem to organize ANYTHING or what it will take to make her actually do what I ask her to do. I wonder what it will take to get my kids to eat food they don’t want to eat. I also wonder how I will teach them right from wrong, and the list goes on and on. I have known my kids for years, and I wish I could figure them out and find the magic formula that will help them grow up to be kind and successful.
I also look at the kiddos in my classroom, none of them on the spectrum, and I wonder what it will take to get them to learn? I wonder how I should teach them, and hold them accountable? I wonder, research, and try new things daily. Months later and I am still trying to figure them all out.
Do you get my point? Aren’t we ALL puzzles? I know the autism puzzle is meant to be symbolic, but I see it as EVERYONE is their own puzzle. Why should we focus on one group? I know that the puzzle stands for the formula the individuals need in order to be successful. However, as a parent and a teacher, all kids are puzzles to me, not just the ones on the spectrum.
April is Autism Awareness month. It is important to spread awareness and share our stories. My child is person, not just a puzzle. Or, he is no more of a puzzle than any other child I have ever met.