It’s that time of year again when you’re asked to turn everything blue to raise autism awareness. A good thing, but as today is always a hard day for me as it marks two milestones that unexpectedly changed our lives forever, I found myself questioning this awareness. Awareness is good but what about acceptance?
Acceptance has to start in your own home at the beginning of any autism journey. Accepting that your journey is different, that it isn’t what you expected and that it is going to be hard. This acceptance can take many years, it’s something that I’m still working on but it isn’t because you wish you could change your child. Love is unconditional and with that comes its own form of acceptance. It’s accepting that there are no rules, or guidelines for the parenting journey that you are on. Everyone’s autism journey is different.
Autism awareness will naturally spread from your family unit. Extended family and friends will learn to love your child just like you, but you will learn to accept that no one can truly understand your autism journey. You will find other autism parents that get it and no words will be needed to confirm that acceptance.
You will accept that some friends will never get the restrictions that autism brings with it. Having a family does restrict your social life but having a child with autism puts in on a whole different level. When taking your child out requires full-scale militarily planning and plans A, B and C need to be made for back up, you will find that sometimes turning down those precious social invites are the easier option. Some friends will understand, others won’t.
You will accept that not every car journey will be peaceful. Just stopping at a traffic light, straying one road from a well know route or being in slow-moving traffic can cause a full-blown meltdown.
You will accept that flapping is part of the autism package, what looks cute at 5 might look a bit different when your child is 15.
You will accept that a full nights sleep is something you may never see again. Drugs may even be issued to try and help but you will learn to live on very little sleep.
You will accept that you will have to learn to communicate in a very different way. Learning makaton or using PECS might have to become second nature. If you are given the gift of words you will celebrate every one and pray that the words continue to flow.
So whilst we are on this journey of autism awareness, it is also a journey of acceptance. Whilst I blog out my own acceptance if I can raise autism awareness so that there are no funny looks from strangers whilst my child is happy and flapping, then there will be acceptance.
If we can safely stop the car to calm down a full-blown meltdown and it not cause insults from other drivers because we have interrupted their journey by slowing them down a bit, then there will be acceptance.
If we can stop the comments because our child is talking like a baby, a child who a year ago only had a handful of words, then there will be acceptance.
So a much as I feel we need autism awareness, let’s bring on the acceptance. Everyone on this planet is individual, some of us have quirks, let us be aware and accept.
DISCLOSURE – This is a collaborative post. This blog post was written by me and is from my personal experience.