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World Autism Awareness Day: How You Can Be Aware

[This is Part I of today's three-part series, along with Be Aware - For Parents and Be Aware - For Family and Friends, for World Autism Awareness Day.]

Be aware that if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.

Be aware that just because people don’t talk doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. And it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent.

Be aware that sometimes our kids can’t help it. They are trying, incredibly hard.

Be aware that an open mind and a closed mouth are sometimes the best response to a situation.

Be aware that our sons and daughters are awesome. Be aware that we will kick the butts of anyone who says otherwise.

Be aware that many public figures and organizations talking about autism don’t necessarily speak for a whole lot of us. Be aware that a lot of the people who talk the most also have the biggest agendas and the most to profit from.

Be aware that if a parent is trying to do something with a child who is melting down in public, pause a minute, postpone judgment, and reflect on whether that child and parent are facing challenges you do not understand.

Be aware that price gouging on materials and equipment infuriates us. We know some companies do it because we have to have what they sell. But be aware that we are now a people’s movement, and the power is shifting to us. We will find new solutions, and they will be better because we made them. And we won’t mourn when unethical companies go out of business.

Be aware that we are loyal and faithful to those who support us and unforgiving in our pursuits against those who take advantage of our children and us. And we have very, very long memories.

Be aware that we tend to be very fired up about our children and their needs, and we aren’t sorry about it.

Be aware that if anyone messes with one child, they mess with all of us.

Be aware that we are unapologetic about getting funding for special education, disability services, or other supports. If people want to argue against these programs, that’s their right. But be aware that if anyone says our kids aren’t ‘worth it’, rather than debate them on the merits or lack thereof, we’ll just tell them to go to hell.

Be aware that we are not asking for ’special rights’, which is just code language for discrimination anyway. We are working to give our children an equal chance at achieving their potential as any other child. When discussions turn toward whether a child is ‘deserving’ of such help, all children suffer, and we sink toward a moral bankruptcy that they will inherit from us.

Be aware that our children are not broken, damaged, or lost. Be aware that the words we use matter. Be aware that you are talking about our children – my children. And be aware that many of them take those words literally and personally.

Be aware that we may sound angry, but that’s because we are fighting for our children, and we fight this battle for them every day.

Be aware that anyone with a soul would fight for these things for their own child if they were in our shoes.

Be aware that all we want is for our children to have a chance to be who they were born to be – just like anyone else does for their own kids.

Be aware that there are a multitude of autistic adults trying to live out their dreams and aspirations. It’s not just about children; adults need services and support too.

Be aware that we are often very tired.

Be aware that we expect great things from our children, and they often humble us with how far they exceed all expectations.

Be aware that we will never give up fighting for them.

And be aware that I still wouldn’t trade my life for anything.

Photo by Beverly & Pack via Flickr


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