Usually I talk about myself on here, and sometimes I talk about my children. Today, I want to talk about the central issue in my life, Autism.
On days like today, I am brought to full awareness of just how different my son is compared to “typical” children his age. Today was the day of the IEP meeting we have every year (or more if needed) to address my son’s educational needs over the next year. Today we got a little of what we wanted, while realizing that Eli still has a very long way to go to do some things. I wonder if he’ll ever get there, and I think to myself, every time, “How necessary is it to have good reading comprehension and live in society?” Well, obviously you have to know what things mean, not just how to read them. You have to be able to pick up a bar of soap and know that you are supposed to use that to wash yourself. You have to be able to understand directions to learn how to drive. I’m sure there are other things, but it does occur to me that he can be taught without reading comprehension, up to a point. He can be taught to drive, but he can’t be taught to pick the right answers on the written test, he’ll have to read and decide.
So, today I read a fellow blogger’s letter to the President, asking for his support of World Autism Awareness day and the campaign to light everything blue that night. The day is April 2nd. I will go out and buy a blue light or two and do what I can on a home level, and maybe I’ll get to tell a few people why my porch light is suddenly blue, but her point is, if the White House joins in, maybe we can foster more awareness and education so that you, the general public, does not dismiss my amazing child as unteachable or weird. He is not the same as you, and he never will be. He is not like your 8 year old child, and he never will be. But, he will need to live along side your 8 year old child someday in an adult world. He will need to contribute something to society. He might not be a lawyer or a truck driver. He might be a musician, he might work with computers or numbers in some way, I can’t answer that right now, but he will be there somehow, and all of us in our world will have to cope with the 1 in 11o ADULTS who will have an autism spectrum disorder. Every year this number is going up, it is already a significant minority.
So, be aware, light a light blue and tell them about your friend who has an autistic kid and is raising him to be a member of this great land. Your friend took “challenges”, looked them in the eye and found strengths and did not let the world shove her kid aside, any more than any parent would allow their typical child to be bullied or shoved aside by the world.
Let’s take that day to remember, we need to move toward an awareness that this will be a neurodiverse world, and maybe that is what evolution demands! We need to change the classrooms, the work environments, etc, in order to adapt to this coming world. We need to start now, with simple awareness that can lead to research, funding and programming that is designed to help our world grow the way it needs to, toward acceptance of individuality and finding ways to fit all members into our society.
I hope you wrote, light my house blue, on your calendar, or at least World Autism Awareness Day. April 2nd, 2011.