This is our third go-around on this Autism Awareness Day ride. Every year I experience so many mixed emotions on this day. I spend most of it reading blog posts by other parents, other individuals with autism, and wrap myself up in their words--I love how this community is a never-ending evolution. As there is no one autism, so too there is no one perspective on it. There is always a new outlook to contemplate, a new voice to be heard. As cringe-worthy as speeches proclaiming intent to "eradicate" autism and mourning the "loss" of our children to this "disease" are, they speak a viewpoint that is it ours to influence. I am a part of that club now. On my first Autism Awareness Day, I wished fervently to not be a part of that elite group of people. Now, two years later, I am proud to count myself amongst them. Members who write posts such as this one and this one - oh, sweet Lord, this one--they remind me that for every puffed up politician or research scientist that only sees the worst of autism, we--the ones on the front lines--we get to see the best.
It is our right to show those around us that for every epic meltdown, there is also a marathon cuddle session with a sibling, catching up on a favorite television show. For every panicked reaction to an unexpected noise, there is also the soft, hard-won "I love you" at the end of the day that made every screech worth-while. I never would have appreciated all of the things that most people take for granted in their children, were it not for autism. Two years later, I treasure that "I love you" above anything else, and I feel sorry for parents who don't have that.
There is a lot of talk about responsibility to educate and fighting for rights today. Braver people than I skirmish on that front year 'round, and my hat is off to them. One day, after enough Autism Awareness Days have passed, I have faith that we'll be "there"--in that place where those with autism can (easily and affordably) receive help for their challenges, yet still be respected for their individualities. Where voices of autistics are heard at the same volume as those we now label "typical"--and their oftentimes incredible strengths are celebrated.
Today, though, for me...I'm just grateful that I get to be this autistic child's mom.