There’s been a lot of controversy about the worth of World Autism Awareness Day (and month), especially amongst those of us who raise awareness about autism everyday already by speaking and writing about it. I agree with a lot of those observations and concerns, so I’m going to take my own spin on the day:
To my son.
I am aware you have autism. I am aware that you have beautiful big brown eyes too. I am aware that these are parts of you, not your whole.
If I could take away all your hardships, I would. But in this I am no different than any other mother. I also know that those challenges and hardships are shaping and defining you, and that you turning out to be the most amazing little boy.
You are not aware of how hard I fight for you, how hard it has been for me, still is for me, and might always be for me. But that is not for you to know. All you need to be aware of is how much and how deeply and unconditionally, I love you. Will always love you.
One day a year, the world’s attention will focus on the part of you with a controversial label. You will grow up hearing the word “autism”, and one day you’ll ask me what that means. And though I don’t know yet what I will reply, I will smile, because you can ask me. Because I was once told there was a good chance you would never speak in sentences, and you proved them wrong.
The more the world becomes aware of autism – the more money and time and effort is poured into unlocking its secrets and finding new ways to help you make your way in this world (and help the world to make way for you) – the better your life will become. You are not aware of all the research and passion dedicated to finding ways to improve your life. People are fighting for the best future you can have. I am fighting for the best future you can have. And if all a “world autism awareness day” does is add one more person to that fight, or make one less person ignorantly prejudiced against you, then that’s good enough for me. You deserve every happiness, and I will do whatever I can to make the world a wonderful place for you to be.