Today is World Autism Awareness Day with the entire month of April devoted to raising awareness of autism. With a 1-in-88 statistic I’m not sure how any of us isn’t aware of autism, but what I hope for more than raising awareness is to raise the level of acceptance and understanding. As a family we’ve lived with Cody’s autism for nearly fifteen years, but there are times when it still feels very lonely. He will be an adult at the end of this year and that brings about many new concerns and challenges and in many ways it feels like we will be navigating through much of it alone. By that I mean that having a child Cody’s age on the autism spectrum sometimes feels more uncommon than those with younger kiddos. I’m truly grateful for all of the amazing resources and support available to parents getting a new diagnosis for their child in recent years, but as Cody has gotten older I’m finding there aren’t as many available for teens who will be transitioning into adulthood. Only recently have I begun to find and get to know a few others in my online world who also have teens with autism. It’s a true comfort.
A huge struggle for me, as his Mom, is to allow and encourage him to be his own voice and advocate. I mean, I will always advocate for him, and for other kids with special needs for that matter, but others will look to him when they have questions about his hopes and dreams and rather than answer for him I need to guide and support him through the choices and decisions he makes for his life. In many ways, it’s way more scary than that initial diagnosis fourteen years ago. The bottom line is that I want him to find joy, love, and success in his future – the same as any parent of any child.