In just a few short weeks it will be fifteen years since my severely autistic son came into the world and made me a mom. His birth fulfilled both a two year quest to bring him here, and a longing I knew would never be quenched unless I became a mother.
In that decade-and-half in which I brought a second autistic child into the world, I have to say I am very, very aware of autism.
I don’t know when exactly I made the shift from wishing for awareness to expecting acceptance to hoping for celebration of my sons’ unique autistic souls. Perhaps it was a few years ago when we were in a lull in springtime, both boys at their best, the two of them happy, safe, and productive. Perhaps it was more subtle than a watershed moment, just a realization that at least in my community my sons’ autisms are not looked upon with pity, but rather with admiration at all they’ve accomplished.
Yes, I know, you’d all like to live here now.
The truth is I’ve moved past awareness and acceptance in my wishes for a post- World Autism Month. It has been at least a decade since an unkind comment or glance has derailed me, years since I cared what anyone in society thought about my severe son’s stims or noises. I can honestly say at least in my little corner of the world people are more than tolerant- they acknowledge my son, speak to him as if he can understand (which he does), and aren’t concerned with his differences.
And yes, I know how very lucky we are.
The truth is I’m past what people think. My focus is now a call for action. I figure I’ve got a good thirty or forty years left on this earth (if I’m lucky), and believe me, I do have a lot of wishes.
I wish for Early Intervention in all fifty states to follow New Jersey’s model of care, where many families receive thirty hours per week of services.
I wish for better group homes for those who cannot achieve independence, programs which are not just glorified babysitting services but are meaningful for those who participate in them.
I wish for more colleges to create programs to support those individuals on the milder end of the spectrum, including both their academic and social needs.
I wish for better medications to help quell the more challenging aspects of autism.
I wish for improved day programs, one of which I hope will both entertain and teach my son new skills as he lives his life.
I wish for insurance companies to make it easier for families to access therapies.
I wish for schools and child study teams to acknowledge the needs of children on the spectrum and not make it so difficult for families to acquire what their sons and daughters need.
I wish for my severely affected son to live in a world where his challenging nature is overlooked for his affectionate and loving soul.
I wish for my mildly affected son to find love and be judged by his actions, not his neurology.
I wish for all the world to celebrate my sons, their kind natures, their inherent intelligence, their unique contributions.
I wish for all autistic individuals to live in a world where they are celebrated.
For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com
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