Autism awareness and acceptance

You may or may not know this, but April is Autism Awareness Month.  What you also may or may not know is that autism has been a huge part of our family’s life for about thirteen years.  I haven’t written a whole about it because it’s so much a part of our life and basically our normal that I haven’t really thought about how special, challenging, and sometimes super rewarding it can be.  I want to share more with you now because I think everyone needs to not only be more aware of autism, but more importantly, accepting of autism.  We’ve had people in our own lives, even family members, who would simply rather make no effort with Cody because they don’t understand autism.  I’d like to think we can all understand human, though, and the fact that we all have a need to be loved, respected, and treated with dignity.  If you would say hello to any other child Cody deserves the same courtesy.  If that means you have to make eye contact and get him to focus on youfor a moment then please make the effort.  If you would would shake the hand of a teen-aged boy then by all means reach out your hand and I guarantee you Cody will pick up on the cue and shake your hand right back.  He’s a person, too, and just because he won’t, or really can’t sometimes, make the initial effort, I can assure you your effort is noticed and appreciated, especially by me as his Mom. 

It truly makes me sad that a lack of understanding or better yet, an effort to understand, holds so many people back from getting to know what an amazing young man that he is becoming.  Gulp.  He really is a young man because at the age of 16 adulthood is creeping up way faster than I’d like it to, but I hope as he begins that journey he is surrounded with people who are open to his differences and embrace what makes him unique.  Ignoring  a person because they seem different just isn’t acceptable.  You may think they don’t notice because they seemingly aren’t paying attention, but even if that’s the case, I can promise you that their caregivers are paying attention and it feels similar to a punch in the gut. 

Say hello and give them a big smile……and for the love of God, please teach your children to do the same.

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