On April 2nd, some of the most iconic landmarks in the world (including Blarney Castle!) will light up blue to raise awareness of Autism. In Ireland, 1 in 100 people have Autism and for reasons unknown, it is becoming more and more common.
Autism is a spectrum disorder which means it can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Basically, no two people with Autism are the same.
Having a child diagnosed with Autism is an extremely traumatic event in any parents life. They say initially, the parents grieve the loss of the child. Will he ever go to the local mainstream school as I visualized? Will he play sports? Will he drive a car? Will he ever get married? Hopes and dreams are initially dashed and parents experience grief. The future becomes very uncertain. Naturally as parents we dream about our children’s future. As an Autism parent, you learn to look at things day by day.
Autism parents everywhere want you to be aware of Autism. Why? Because children with Autism grow to become adults with Autism. And these adults belong in society as much as you and I.
The child in the playground who wont wait his turn. The kid in the supermarket covering his ears and saying ‘mmmmmm’ loudly. The little boy in the play center playing alone, spinning in circles. Is this what Autism looks like?
The little girl throwing a ‘tantrum’ with her mum in the queue in front of you, holding up the whole shop. Is it a tantrum? Or Autism meltdown?
Please do not judge that parent. It may be Autism, and if it is, they are going through hell right now and your tutting or judgmental staring does not help.
The little kid who has his head in the iPad while mum sips a coffee? Don’t judge mum. Sure, too much iPad is bad but in a crowded place it can help this little guy block out all of the loud noises which cause him pain. And trust me, this mum deserves her cup of coffee.
So how do I know? Because I am an Autism mum. I have written this article to raise awareness. I am using my blog to raise awareness. If just one of you reads this and knows a little bit more about Autism, my work here is done.
Autism is a condition, it does not define a person. My son has Autism, I chose not to refer to him as autistic. Why? A wise friend of mine explained this really well – if Autism were the flu, would you say that your son is the flu? Or that he has the flu?
I want my child to grow up in a world where people will be aware of his challenges. An Autism mum’s biggest fear is what happens when I am gone? This is why we light it up blue every year, to let people know that autism exists.
So what does autism look like you might ask? It looks like me and you. It’s the little girl next door. It’s the man waiting at the bus stop. It’s the teenager you just walked past.
In my family, it’s cheeky, mischievous, gorgeous, bright eyed and handsome. It’s smiley, energetic and extremely affectionate. It’s just so handsome I could eat it!!
And I don’t care if I am biased. Because it’s my boy. x