Every April we go through Autism Awareness Month, or Autism Action Month. Because I have Autism in my family with my 2 children, we are acutely aware of autism and all that comes with it. I'm grateful that April comes and promotes at least awareness of autism. Even though the numbers of those diagnosed with autism have risen dramatically in the 6 years we've been in the autism arena, I'm shocked how many people have no idea about it, and not that it's their fault or anything. I didn't know anything about it until I was baptized by the fire of a diagnosis.
I love adore, and worship my kids and would walk through fire or to the end of the earth for them. I've participated in some hokey therapies and treatments and would do every single thing over to make sure I left no stone unturned to help my kids beat autism.
What I have never understood, and I get a lot of flak for is I do not and have not found the celebration of autism. While it's something my kids have, it doesn't have them. We work hard, and constantly and consistently to help crack the shell that is surrounding my children. One of my children is also severely impacted by autism, non verbal, and his life is extraordinarily challenging, there is NOTHING about his autism that is a party or deserves a parade. It's horrible some of the days and nights he goes through with his neurological torture. I don't even think some parents of children with autism that are verbal and high functioning can even relate to this part of the autism spectrum. Severe autism is nothing that is to be celebrated. I wouldn't celebrate someone getting a stage IV Gleoblastoma brain tumor, as autism, there is not cause or cure., I don't celebrate MS, I don't celebrate ALS. I show compassion and to the people effected by these things, they're the same. They are life changing ailments that make your life different, and not always for the better.
The celebrations that I do have every day, are the lives of my boys, and every single accomplishment that I have learned to not take for granted. The first time my son used a tissue to wipe his nose instead of his shirt sleeve. When he picked up his mess from a meltdown and put it back in the toybox, the hugs I get, the new things we works so hard to get them to try and have success (even after years of therapy). I celebrate the accomplishments, and the ways we find joy and give them happiness. I celebrate our family and how even though we are different and have to take 2 cars everywhere we go in case autism hijacks our event, we are a family, and we do autism together great. The friends we have made in the journey of autism, are amazing because autism is isolating, and these families have all come together to help, hug, and understand in the lonely heartbreaking world of autism. I couldn't even imagine going through this journey without some of my autism mommies and daddies, we are friggin AMAZING, even if the rest of the world doesn't get it.
The things that keep me up at night and I'll never be able to celebrate.
What will happen to my kids when I die? Who will care for them, they have family that doesn't even bother to try to know them? Will Franklin ever talk? Where will they live? Is someone bullying them at school, and they don't even know how to tell me? Is a teacher or therapist not giving them their treatment because they know my kids can't tattle on them? Is my house secure enough so they can't get out? What was that sound? Where is he? Did he eat? Did he poop? How did he get that bruise? Is that a seizure? Is that an allergy? Is he sick? I wonder if something hurts him? Are the professionals telling me the truth? Will this treatment work? What if this treatment doesn't work? Will this treatment hurt him or affect him negatively???? See the racing mind NEVER EVER stops. I'm more fearful of the autism, because the autism hurts my kid sometimes. Literally and figuratively. Those are all the fears worries and doubts that I have to overcome before I can put a party hat on and whoop it up about autism.
What autism has given me is a strength I didn't know was possible, a perseverance of a warrior, and a belief and faith in my kids, and my God that I didn't know was there. So those little things I celebrate, but Autism, I just don't, I just can't. My kids are more than autism, and I don't just want them to be that label I want them to be Franklin and Jackson and I want the world, their school and our families to see the awesomeness that I see in them everyday. So while yes I will every single solitary day adore, worship and celebrate my boys, I don't yet have a reason or willingness to celebrate the diagnosis, I may not ever get there, but celebrating the successes of my kids, and helping them overcome the obstacles that autism throws down in front of them every day. I celebrate the victories we have over autism.