Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day, a UN mandated day to raise awareness of autism around the world.
I have shared my thoughts about autism awareness before. Three years ago I wrote the following:
As a parent of 2 kids on the spectrum and as a carer, I want everyone to understand that properly supporting and accepting people with autism will go a long way to helping them achieve great things. I want everyone to understand that there is nothing WRONG with someone with autism. They face challenges, yes, but they have so many amazing talents and gifts to share.
We need to provide adequate support, at every stage of life, to ensure every person with autism has the opportunity to realize their potential. We need to support the families caring for people on the autism spectrum so they can continue to give all the love, support, help and care that they need. And we need to support educators, therapists and specialists to ensure they can continue to provide specialist advice and assistance too.
On this day, World Autism Awareness Day, I ask that you all take a moment to consider the challenges faced by people with autism and their families. Make the commitment to increase your own awareness of the condition. You can find out more here.
Three years have passed and I’m still hoping for these things. But I’m also wanting more.
I shared my thoughts last year on why I believe EVERY day should be autism acceptance day – not just something that happens on April 2 every year. Awareness can only go so far. My children, as well as everyone else on the spectrum, need acceptance and respect.
I’ve also shared many posts in the past about the positives of autism, how autism can sometimes suck, how it can make the little things hard and how it can make you value every achievement so much more than you otherwise would.
I’m sharing these posts with you to demonstrate the many aspects of autism. To illustrate the many ways it affects everyday life. And to reveal the many emotions it can bring.
There is good and bad in everything.
You may have seen posts encouraging you to light it up blue for autism. Or to wear gold to support neurodiversity. Or to wear bright colours to support the breadth of the spectrum.
Honestly, I don’t care what you wear or what colour you choose to support. Your choice of attire is not going to affect me or my family in the slightest. It’s certainly not going to change our everyday lives.
However, your choice of ACTION can potentially affect us, either in a good or bad way.
You can choose to become more informed about autism and extend your acceptance and understanding to all on the spectrum.
You can choose to teach your kids to be accepting of difference and to be kind, compassionate and generous.
You can choose to become vocal and actively call out discrimination and bullying to those on the spectrum whenever you see it.
You can choose to donate your money to fund more research into early intervention and support for autistics at every stage of their lives.
You can choose to volunteer your time to provide respite to families, to provide friendship and support & to help where you can.
You can choose to challenge the accepted norms and see autism as a different way of thinking rather than as a disability or a burden.
Honestly, forget about colours. Forget about awareness. Forget about token posts and mentions on social media.
CHOOSE to practice acceptance. Every. Single. Day.
CHOOSE to not be afraid of difference. CHOOSE to understand and not judge. CHOOSE to extend a helping hand.
It’s time for autism acceptance.
It’s time for YOU to choose how you are going to make it happen.
You can help ME make a difference today by supporting my bid to raise $1000 for Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT). I’ve committed to walking 15,000 steps each day for the next week.