Autism Speaks

“It’s autism speaks awareness day, every day, at our house,” Sandra, a mother of an autistic child recently stated.

No one truly understands the struggles or pain a parent of an autistic child feels or goes through, unless he/she has been through it or been close to the family.

April is National Autism Speaks Awareness month, while April 1st was National Autism Speaks, Light it up Blue Day, for Autism Speaks Awareness. Autism speaks awareness hopes to bring awareness of the disease, fund research, and offer support to families of autistic children.

One percent of the children in the United States is affected by autism, and yet so little is still known about the disease or its causes. A 600 percent increase has been noted from 2002-2006, according to the CDC, while one in 100 children have been diagnosed with autism, including one in seven boys. Early detection could be a part of the noted increase. So much is still unknown.

Years ago, in teaching Pre-K, I was blessed to meet a family and learn a little about the struggles, as their son attended our school. More recently, I have been in contact with my cousin, Sandra Guichard, of Louisiana.

She does not ask for help, she asks for understanding and human compassion. Simple shopping trips can become such a stressful time. This is not just because her son, does not handle changes in situations well, but instead because of the looks, and perhaps thoughtless comments made by people who truly do not understand autism.

Autistic children are precious gifts from God, and enjoy the same things other children enjoy, such as playing, hearing stories, and learning. They may do so in different ways, but do not adapt well to changes in the normal.

Next time a child seemingly is misbehaving, before passing judgment on a parent that may already be frazzled, why not try some compassion.

I told her that I wanted to write an article for Autism Speaks, and asked her to share from her experience, to perhaps help others hear and understand her heart, and what she goes through, on a daily basis.

This is what she wrote, “I’m hoping through your article, people can learn some compassion towards people with autism or any other disability. Today we went to Winn Dixie, a horrible experience. Joshua had such a hard, then he had a major meltdown at the register. On the next register, two women were staring at us and laughing, like it was so funny, that he was screaming and crying. Unfortunately that happens often. I wish people would put themselves in my position, sometimes. Then there are others who just look at our son like he is such a bad little boy, when he is such a sweet boy who just has a hard time with different situations and settings. Then there are people who look at me like I’m such a bad mother.

My hope is one day, that people with think before they judge both my son me. If they would think, maybe he has a learning disability, autism, or other disorder and that the parent is doing the best they can. Every parent I met so far in my situation has said autism is a struggle. My daughter has down syndrome and in our situation down does not compare to what we have gone through with autism. I understand not all parents of children with downs can say the same, but we have been blessed. Then there are the other people who when they hear Joshua has autism, go out of their way to help. I hope one day more people will be like those.

God has sent me lots of people to help me through the hard days. Something else I hope for is that people look past the behaviors that Joshua and Courtney have and instead sees what I see; two incredible children who have so much love to give, if only given a chance. I wrote way too much. Thanks this was therapy for me.”