April 2nd is autism awareness day all over the world. Just this week I read an amazing article written in 2017 and published on Huffpost about how we should bring awareness by honoring our own spectrum children instead of celebrating just the success cases.
Everything the author writes in this article is real and true all the way down to the poo. It made me think a lot about our journey and about others. I know more families with “low” performing spectrum kids than I do with the savant child “rain man”. It’s great to celebrate the stories of success, the kid that grows into this gifted and talented star. However, most of us will have to support our growing children into and through adulthood. They will need a place to live, help finding work, and continued therapy and support.
There is always hope when we have young children on the spectrum. With autism awareness I think we need to bring the blue light to shine on access. If we can get young children with spectrum behaviors whether diagnosed with autism yet or not better access to therapy and services then we can have hope for more and or greater stories of success and hope. The earlier the intervention the higher the changes we have to see improvement of symptoms or deficits. For us, we have seen improvements in language and speech this year that are far above what we struggled to get in years past with private and public school therapy. We have finally found access to the right speech therapy and a great therapist. My son is being taught in the way he learns best! What a concept, right?!
We also have seen amazing growth with his behaviors. Not only is he being taught the way he learns but he has access to one on one ABA therapy to address his behavior needs. His therapist challenges him but loves him too. When you finally find the right learning environment with access to the right teachers, it’s amazing what type of results can be achieved.
Something happened just this weekend that has never happened before and I know it is because we have access to a great program and therapists.
Long story short: a stranger asked my son a question in public, he answered!
I didn’t have to repeat the question to him, translate his response or answer for him. Nor did I have to feel like I needed to tell the stranger that he had autism to explain why he didn’t answer or why they couldn’t understand his words. That was a huge success for him and a teaching moment for me. I didn’t have to say anything, I could just wait for him to handle it.
So, this year for autism awareness let’s bring awareness to our children who
- struggle to get a proper education setting
- have all the signs of autism but cannot get an appointment to be diagnosed
- are on wait lists for access to ABA therapy, speech therapy or occupational/physical therapy
- have to deal with billing issues with Medicaid
- struggle to find jobs or careers as young adults
This month, next month and into the future gaining autism awareness that brings more access to support, education and therapy is key to so many children having a chance at a brighter future. Shine your blue light on better access for all people with autism!