Today is April 2nd. Today is also World Autism Awareness Day. Today, all members of the United Nations are encouraged to take measures to raise awareness about individuals with autism. On this day, we are encouraged to wear blue. If you aren’t today, remember it for next year.
There is so much I need to say, and there is so much we all need to know regarding autism. Like how it is a lifelong brain development disorder. Like how it affects 1 in 68 children in America alone. Like how it impacts social interactions, learning, and communication. Like how there is no known cause and no known cure. But, through all the statistics, there is so much more.
We don’t need a cure, we need to understand. Individuals with autism are such amazing, incredible people. They are more aware and more intelligent than most – probably more so than I, personally, will ever be. They each have unique sets of strengths and abilities. These individuals are creative. They are loving, smart, funny, talented, uniquely observant. Every single individual with autism is a small piece of the puzzle that is the autism spectrum. Every single individual with autism matters.
This April 2nd means more to me than ever before. I now have the opportunity to work with children with autism every single day. I have wanted this for years and it is the greatest blessing I have ever received. My students teach me so much every single day. They have inspired me, probably more than I have inspired them. I love these kids so much that my heart is overflowing. I have laughed and smiled more in this past month than I ever have in my entire life. It can be challenging. It can be hard. But, man, is it worth it.
We see the diagnosis of a disability and tend to get afraid. Tend to get judgmental. Tend to treat these individuals differently. Tend to lose some aspect of respect. When I tell you it absolutely broke my heart to see our leader make fun of an individual with a disability in front of the world, I am not lying. My heart was shattered to a million pieces.
I want to do so much as to open the mind of one person. If I can do so much as to change the life of one person for the better – whether it is one of my students, a parent, a bystander – I can die happily knowing I have done my part.
If everyone took as much as 5 minutes to open their minds – get educated, become aware – the world would be a completely different place. Volunteer. Work. Have experiences with individuals with disabilities. Welcome them into your community. Hire them if they are aptly qualified for a job. Change someone’s life.
Information on how to get involved and how to get educated can be found at www.autismspeaks.org. Take 5 minutes today. You don’t even have to search, I provided the link for you. All you have to do is click. It will make a world of difference. xoxo.