Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day, an event that kicks off Autism Awareness Month.
Around the world, businesses, schools, retailers, social media outlets, and individuals will be shining a light on spreading Autism awareness. While the focus is on children, those of us who participate are also wanting to educate the public as to what this disorder is and how it affects not only the child but the entire family.
This day is personal for me, because my family has been touched with Autism. My oldest son is on the Autism spectrum, as is my young nephew. For twenty-four years, I have dealt with Autism, whether it be as a teacher, a parent, or an aunt. Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with any disability is harder. The label does not mean much to me. I didn't need an Asperger's label to tell me that my son was struggling, was in distress, was a challenge, was in pain, was not functioning within the "normal" range. However, what a label does do is open doors and opportunities for help~ whether it be an IEP, 504 Plan, Medical Card, or professional help.
Parents of Autistic children can feel all alone as they struggle with the daily challenges of nurturing and caring for their child. Many feel isolated as even family members may not fully understand the child's behavior. Social outings are stressful, unpredictable, and so many parents feel that it is too risky and exhausting for them and their child to attend birthday parties, take a trip to the grocery store or even to the park. If you have an Autistic child you get it. I get it; I really do.
When life gets harder, I pray harder. It is my main way to cope with all things in life, especially with those circumstances that I cannot control, fix, heal, or change. Another way I cope is to read all I can as a way to educate myself, inform others, and to know that I am not alone.
I want to share with you a few websites that I have found very helpful. Whether you are a teacher, a parent, a friend, or a relative of a loved one on the Austism spectrum, I encourage you to check out these sites. I have no affiliation with these sites... I found them in my search for answers and support, and I hope they do the same for you.
- Child Mind Institute- Has a wealth of information for childhood psychiatric and learning disorders , including Autism and Selective Mutism (NOT on the Autism spectrum, but personal to me as well).
- Autism Speaks- World's leading autism science and advocacy organization
- Kennedy Krieger Institute- An internationally recognized institution dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal system.
When my child was first diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of fourteen, I discovered the book, Look Me in the Eye. Both my son and I read it. It gave us insight and hope. Click the picture below to check it out. If you have a child or teach a child with Asperger's, this is a must read!
Recently, I found the book ,Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum. Although I have not read it yet, the book is on my wish list, as it looks to be inspiring.
My prayer is that if your life has been touched with Autism in any way, that something from today's post will be helpful to you. If nothing else, my goal was to share a little part of my story with Autism and to offer you hope. There is always hope. I know that when caring for an Autistic child the days can be long, the days can be lonely, the days can be exhausting, sucking the life out of you as you struggle to remain strong, and the days can be beyond frustrating.
But there is always hope and there is always love.