Today is the day where posts are flying around the internet in a bid to educate people about autism. As much as I support Autism Awareness Day and help to promote awareness for autism, facts and figures won’t teach people about autism – people teach people about autism!!!!
Facts and figures don’t show how families are affected by autism. They don’t show what daily life is like; what it’s like when your child is lying on the supermarket floor screaming because an announcement has been made over the tannoy that hurts your child’s ears, the difficulty of trying to take a 5 minute journey through a city centre that ends up taking half an hour because your child HAS to walk on every line the council have (so very kindly) built into the floor, the nights you spend sitting awake for hours on end with your 5 year old that has all the worries of the world on his shoulders. They don’t show how it feels to have the disapproving looks, the tuts and mutterings about how you’re a bad parent and can’t control your child.
The facts miss out the pleasure autism can bring, the joy of your child seeing the world in a unique way, the fun and fascination they find in the spinning of a wheel. The sheer pleasure when you experience your child accomplishing something that most parents would take for granted; when they look at you, when they say hello, seeing them interact with another child, when they tell you that they love you (Danny was 3 and a half when he told me he loved me and it was one of the greatest days of my life).
I want people to be aware of autism, I want them to understand that it can’t be seen – that autistic people look exactly the same as everyone else (although with closer inspection you may find they have no labels in their clothes, and seamless socks ;p) and realise that not every person with autism is like rainman!
So next time you’re out shopping and you see a child screaming please stop and think for a minute. Yes the child may just be having a moment (we’ve all been there) but be aware there may be more to what you’re seeing. An autistic child can react badly, kicking and screaming because of the smallest change in their life, they have no control over this. So before you judge the child for being naughty, or the parent for having no control come an walk a day in my shoes and see how it really is.