This coming Sunday is the tenth official World Autism Awareness Day, a day in which I could tell you I’ll be “lighting it up blue” or spreading awareness, but in reality I will be severely jetlagged in Ireland and hopefully putting autism on a shelf for a week.
Really, I’ll still have fifty-one weeks and thirty more years to think about it.
In the past nine years I’ve written at least one missive about the day each year, discussing my eldest son’s burgeoning awareness of the world around him, and my youngest’s awareness that he has autism too. I’ve talked about our path from awareness to acceptance and even to celebration (yes, some of you are rolling your eyes, but reading at three and insane organizational skills are the yin to many a yang). I’ve written about how much Autism Speaks has helped us, and how passionately I feel about the boys’ collective progress.
When it comes to autism, there’s always a lot to write about.
When the boys were little, our world was very small. Truth be told I only worried about what was happening in their world, was truly just trying to get through the day, or sometimes the hour. There was no global autism awareness chez McCafferty.
But I’m happy to tell you now, with my kids at ages ten and almost fourteen respectively, there’s room for what I call the “big picture.” Here are some things I’m aware of this World Autism Day.
I’m aware that my eldest, severely autistic and non-verbal son continues to make progress every month of his life, and his courage astounds me.
I’m aware that my youngest has exceeded my expectations in what I thought he’d achieve, that he is “living his dream” as he is fond of telling me.
I’m aware that some days at my house are so difficult they’d never make it on a reality show.
I’m aware that some of our moments are so filled with love and promise some people would not believe I have two autistic kids.
I’m still aware that Betsy Devos needs to brush up on IDEA.
I’m aware that the Supreme Court is my new best friend with their latest ruling on the court case which hopefully redefined a “fair and appropriate education” for generations to come.
I’m aware that I’m nowhere near as patient as I often need to be.
I’m aware that not beating myself up about it is key, and I’m trying my best not to do that.
I’m aware that I will never be at peace with leaving my son for half his life here without me.
I’m aware that my other son will most likely “flee the coop,” and for that I’m eternally grateful.
I’m aware that I need massive quantities of chocolate to get through my day.
I’m aware that sometimes wine is needed to accompany that chocolate too.
I’m aware that this life, both for me and my kids, is sometimes grueling, beautiful, stressful, fulfilling, annoying, and miraculous, all at the same time. I’m aware that autism is not completely gloom and doom, nor puppies and rainbows either.
I am aware of the patience and consistency and boundless love from several villages of people that go into raising my kids.
I am aware and am so grateful for everyone’s contributions, and for my kids, just as they are.
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