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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