It’s World Autism Awareness Day (“WAAD”). I’m meant to be writing an insightful, amusing, or challenging blog post for you; I am, after-all, an autism blogger. At the very least, I’m meant to have written you that follow-up post about how awesome the new school turned out to be after that last school discriminated against my children. But in families like mine, life rarely goes as planned, and that means for me that my blogging escapades will swing off in unexpected directions alongside my life. That unexpected swing I’m coping with today – ever so well-timed for WAAD – is the confirmed autism diagnosis of my second child.
That’s pretty big stuff for us – we expected it of course, and have done so for a long time, but the confirmed diagnosis from an expert in the field, matters a lot, and still hit me pretty hard. I think it’s fair to say that it hit me as hard as it did though, because it came alongside a diagnosis for ADHD and dyspraxia too. So my son got three diagnoses in one day. I know little about the other two diagnoses, so I now begin an entire new learning curve, as I must and as I should.
This – plus various ongoing school challenges – mean I haven’t had the time I should for blogging, but it does mean I am put in the position to have a brief but important message for you this WAAD: This day, keep in mind the parents who have only just found out their child is on the spectrum, and who know so very little about what that means. Take the opportunity to share messages of hope, celebrations of diversity, and acceptance; we get 364 days each year to worry and be overwhelmed, misunderstood, rejected and treated like second-class families, how about we try to turn this day into something positive. Let newly diagnosed families know that they are not alone, that yes autism is a lot to cope with but it’s not the end of the Earth, and that the child they loved yesterday is the same child they love today, just with a new word in their life that is there to help them understand their child better. Let’s try to share the positive posts, the hopeful memes, the enlightening messages, instead of the doom-and-gloom that will scare and depress the new families joining our ranks.
Let’s encourage the love and acceptance, that we want others to show towards our children as adults; autism is a diagnosis given to a person, they don’t stop being a person – with feelings, and rights – just because of the diagnosis.