Have you ever opened up the local newspaper and saw your child's picture in it for their achievements? Have you ever watched the evening news and saw your child's athletic team scroll across the bottom announcing their big win on Friday night? Have you ever read your child's name under the High Honor roll in the newspaper? If you have, what did you feel? I am sure without doubt that you felt proud. You were so happy for your child and their achievements.
Many times your child's band, choir, dance team, girl/boy scouts, or whatever your child does, is in the news and I know you are so proud of them!
I remember as a child knowing what it was like to see my picture in the paper for my sports achievements. I remember what it was like to see my picture in the paper for all of my high school awards. I was proud of myself and my parents were beyond proud!
How many times do you open up the newspapers and see a child's picture with autism or whatever disability that they have? How many times do you see a special needs child in the news? It is slim to none! They have much to celebrate too, its just different from others.
In fact, if it wasn't for organizations like Autism Speaks and The Autism Society of America, autism would not be heard of. It would only be known to the families living with it. The different organizations spread awareness of autism. They inform and educate people what autism is. They are almost always formed by families who are touched by autism in one way or the other. Therefore, we would not even have organizations advocating for autism if it wasn't for the parents who spend part of their day advocating for their children.
For instance, I know a lot about other diseases and disabilities but it is not because I opened up a book and read about them. It is because I knew someone who was going through that in their life and I let them educate me on it because I wanted to understand.
If it wasn't for parents, like me, who advocate what would the world know about autism? What would the world know about how these families and their children suffer? We all know we are not going to hear about it on the news or local radio station.
Is there a difference between reading about your child because their team won last night or reading about my boys' disabilities? The only difference is, there are many local newspaper writers and coaches who send in the play by play action. Who is going to do that for children with disabilities? No one, other than their parents.
With all of that said, that is why I advocate! I may never open up the paper and see my boys picture in it for sports, band, cub scouts, or all the other many options that is available for kids today. Seriously...come on now...everyone knows what basketball, baseball, band, boy scouts, etc is all about. We hear about it everywhere! I have never read an article about autism written by a random person. No one spreads the news because they are not educated. Autism is who my family is. It will never go away. Some day the sports, band, and all the extra curricular activities go away. It is a huge part of that families life while it lasted but it goes away. Many families are left with scrapbooks and memories of their child's achievements. I want to show my boys a scrap book just like I have and just like their father has. What is going to be in that scrapbook? Nothing if I didn't do what I am doing!
Therefore, one day I will proudly show the boys a scrap book full of articles and pictures that I have submitted to several places educating the world on their disability. There is no difference than that and a child in the paper for their sport achievement. Like I said, sports eventually go away unless you are a professional athlete but autism is here forever.
I have thought about this a lot lately since Trenton does not sleep well. I have looked out my window numerous times at 2 AM. What did I see at 2 AM? I saw a dark street, dark houses, and no sign of any type of movement from anybody. I assume they were all asleep peacefully in their beds. But I don't know that for sure. Maybe they are in their house suffering from a terrible form of cancer or disease. If a neighbor looked at my house lately in the night, they would see lights on. I am sure they wouldn't think anything else about it other than a house with lights on. However, what was going on in that house would leave everyone speechless and in shock. I am sure in their wildest dreams they would never imagine an almost 5 year old running into the walls, spitting everywhere, trying to open the doors to get out while crying. I am sure they would not imagine a huge meltdown that lasts over 30 minutes with him hitting himself, hitting and kicking me while screaming so high that it could have broke glass. Instead we look like a house with a light on.
If people do not know about severe autism then how can they help their neighbor or each other? Most importantly, how can they help that individual suffering from autism? We know we won't hear about it in the news by a random person. It is up to the parents to be their voice and share with the world on what autism really is. Autism is way more than the book defined definition.