Autism Awareness month has changed so much for us over the years. When Ashlyn was young I wore awareness ribbons and puzzle pieces and used this time to explain autism. It was my chance to spread the awareness we still needed.
Autism affected 1 in 450 then.
Now everyone knows about autism. Everyone is aware of a neighbor or a nephew or a child’s classmate who has been diagnosed. They don’t need an explanation of what autism is, they’ve seen it at the grocery story or last Sunday at church.
Autism affects 1 in 50 now.
For me, this month means there will be more media coverage of what causes autism, more people leaning in to ask do you think it’s the shots? and more well-meaning acquaintances sending me articles on the latest research. Honestly, I don’t want to read another research study and I don’t want to discuss what I did or did not do while pregnant, feeding my daughter or deciding on her medical care.
What I do want to discuss is the future. I want to talk about the hours I’ve spent searching for meaningful career opportunities and the future my daughter deserves and come up with nothing. I want to discuss how some states offer coverage for kids with autism to receive the quality therapy and long term care and how others leave families to empty bank accounts that were never full to begin with. I want someone to tell me what’s next. I want to know where all of these kids, the one of every 50, will end up in the future. How are we going to help them right now?
How are we going to make sure that those who can’t speak have a voice and assure their parents it’s okay to send them to school each day?
And how are we going to make sure the ones who can’t make eye contact can still find a job and the ones who don’t have social skills have someone to make them happy on a Saturday afternoon?
There is so much that needs to be done and I have hoped and waited and advocated for years to see it happen and it just hasn’t yet.
Instead of forwarding an article about autism to a newly diagnosed family, see if they need groceries or a babysitter for five minutes.
Instead of pinning a ribbon on your jacket or putting a bumper sticker on your car talk to your kids about including a peer with autism.
We don’t need awareness anymore, we need to make changes and get things done.
The future is here for so many of these kids and right around the corner for many, many more.
Find something you can do this month to make it brighter.
As a parent, you know that we long to hear the words “I LOVE YOU”… but for our precious ones, that can be a difficult task. This week, Sevenly is helping families cope with the effect of autism. You can help, when you pick up one of their shirts. Only available for 7 days!
Check it out here www.sevenly.org/
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hannah singer says
amen to all of this!
so encouraged. glad i found you and your blog. thank you!
hannah singer says
amen to all of this!
so glad to have found you and your blog.
thanks so much for the encouragement.
Corey Feldman says
I truly hope there will be more state assistance programs or the Federal Government steps in. So scary for parents.
It is really nice that there are programs like this on your country. My little toddler has got a friend in the kindergarden, who has been diagnosed with autism a couple of months ago. His parents seem to be scared since they have got to know about their problem, unfortunately, there isn’t any support available in our country for these kind of special children…
Sybil @ Peace it all Together says
This post is honest and amazing! I am an educator of children with autism. In our county, we have worked so hard on early intervention, but by the time our students enter jr high, the services and supports are so limited. My son has SPD, which results in anxiety and social issues. I think about his future everyday.
Rach (DonutsMama) says
Thank you for that Jessica. It’s not just about awareness, it’s about action and acceptance. Very important.
Beautifully said as usual. This was a great read because it’s hard to know how to help those in our life who have autistic children. I want to help, but don’t always know how. Thanks for sharing.
It’s crazy fast how it went from 1 in 450 to essentially 1 in 50 in a “short” period of time.
Every once in a while I sit back and wonder how it will be in the future. Will opportunities open up as they haven’t before? Will I be able to teach him what he needs to navigate the world? It’s enough to give me a panic attack. So thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one who worries about this.
Wow! This one is deep. Very well written Jessica. I will be sharing this one as well via Twitter.
Loved this. Shared on FB 🙂
Ginger Kay says
Yes, awareness campaigns only take us so far. People have been made aware. Now what?
Lori Wescott says
You have really inspired me with this. My son is a peer in an early childhood program that is set up by the county we live in. It’s an amazing thing. For every child with a need there is one typically developing peer. My son has buddied up with a boy with autism and it never even occurred to me that he might not get many invitations to play at other people’s houses. We’re going to do that! His Mom doesn’t make it to a lot of the class parties because she works. She could maybe use a break. I’m so glad I read this. Thank you!!
This is the best comment Lori. It’s exactly what I was hoping would come of me writing about this. I don’t think people purposely exclude kids or families dealing with autism, I think it just doesn’t cross their mind. Thank YOU.
Kathy at kissing the frog says
Some great things to think about Jessica. I’m sharing, too.
Very well said! I am much more concerned about what lies ahead as my son grows up.
JD Bailey @ Honest Mom says
Well said, Jessica. I often wonder what will happen to the autistic children I know when they are older. I love your suggestions. 🙂
I heart this. Sharing!