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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Autism Awareness Month

I've gotten pretty far out of the loop on advocating, attending rallies, and other autism activities. I feel kind of guilty about that. Then I realize that I do the best I can for my daughters every day, and that is helping out with autism. I try to let them experience life, even though it is rough with their abilities sometimes.

I always feel like I'm not doing enough. I wish I could handle them 100% by myself, but I know I can't. I need help, but at the same time I resent needing help. But the mature side of me knows that what is best for the girls is accepting help when it is needed.

Each parent and caregiver is different, so I can't claim to speak for them all, but here are some things I'd appreciate others knowing about autism:

  • Not all people with autism have special skills or are like Rain Man. Less than 1% are considered autistic savants. And no, my kids aren't in that tiny group. 
  • Kids with autism may appear "bratty" in behavior but most likely they are having a meltdown that they can't control. Staring at them will only embarrass/enrage their caregivers and companions.
  • Offering to help is fine. Offering holier-than-thou or sarcastic commentary/advice is not fine. 
  • Asking questions is okay, as long as my kids aren't running amok or having a meltdown. I am very open and love to talk about autism with people who are genuinely interested. Just know that if my kids are present I'll probably be very busy keeping them on task.
I hope I can get more involved in the autism community as my daughters get older, but they will always need cared for so that may have to stay a lower priority for me for some time. I encourage and appreciate what others can do to spread awareness and stop prejudice. Thanks for your help if you've done your part.

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