World Autism Awareness Day 2nd April 2017 is upon us. This day is to honour every single amazing child and adult on the Autism Spectrum. Autism is a life long condition that affects language ability, social interaction and how they see the world around them. There is no cure for Autism. On Autism Awareness Day people will wear the Autism ribbon, fundraise for their charity and many landmarks across the World will light up blue.
Autism personally affects myself and my family and it is extremely close to my heart. My oldest son Jack has been diagnosed with Autism. He is 13 and he was diagnosed with Autism on the 27th of March 2016. I will never ever forget that day. It’s hard to explain because I was so relieved because we could finally take the steps forward to get Jack the support he needs but I was also so upset too, although I knew what the prognosis would be. I suppose its like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders and yet a huge emotional wave hits me at the same time. The realisation that my child will always need support to live his life.
I haven’t told Jack that he has autism. Although I know that we will need to have that conversation I am not sure if he will truly understand what it means because he has various other complex needs. I will try my best to help him understand.
I want to raise awareness of Autism because more and more children and adults are being diagnosed with this condition. According to NAS 1 in 100 people in the UK are affected by Autism which means 700,000 are Autistic. More boys are diagnosed than girls. Girls are better at masking Autism than boys. This could hold them back from getting the right diagnosis and possibly even a later in life diagnosis.
If people are aware then it will lead to understanding and eventually acceptance. Talking about Autism is the way forward and accepting that people are different and not less will go a long way.
Jack is an amazing teenager and hasn’t come across any cruel jibes directed at him. I on the other hand have been on the receiving end of the looks, stares and the cruel tutting while I’m trying to calm him down mid meltdown and get him off the floor when the noises in the supermarket have become too much for him. He is oblivious to it all and I’m happy with that.
Instead of forcing him into my world I have stepped into his. He has taught me to live in the moment, that nothing is ordinary but instead he is completely extraordinary. He has taught me to be strong when I am feeling weak. He likes routine, same breakfast, same tv programmes every day. That it is ok to repeatedly watch that youtube video over and over. Even I when I whisper he can hear me upstairs. Now that is amazing! He can remember things from years ago that I have forgotten. He sees the world as good and every person is his friend. I’m working on that one. He shows compassion and wants cuddles ( on his terms) even though the professionals say Autistic people can’t show empathy. I disagree with that one. I believe he loves us, his family, just as much as we love him. I have also met some amazing parents and children that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
So on this Autism Awareness Day I hope that people will be aware of Autism and also to accept my son for who is. Jack is 13 and he has Autism. Step into our world. You’ll be pleasantly surprised