April 2 has been designated as World Autism Acceptance Day and for that I'm grateful. I'm grateful that for one day there is a greater focus on autism awareness and the hope that more people will have a better understanding of this mystifying, often frustrating disorder. But while some may only think about autism once a year, it is constantly on the mind of others. Like me. Every day is autism awareness day for me and my family.
My son has autism-Asperger's Syndrome to be exact. I understand that diagnosis isn't used much anymore and everything falls on the autism spectrum, but for the sake of simplicity I still refer to it as Asperger's. It doesn't matter what you call it, the diagnosis is still the same, the disorder is still the same, and so is my son. And he is awesome.
While most kids get diagnosed fairly early in life, my boy didn't get diagnosed until he was eight years old. Being that he is high functioning he didn't miss any milestones such as walking or talking. As a matter of fact he had such an impressive vocabulary it was hard to believe at times that he was a little kid. It took four long, heartbreaking years to finally find someone who would listen to us and our concerns. The schools were always quick to label him as highly intelligent, but disruptive. ADHD was thrown around so easily I thought I might have to punch someone in the throat for not delving deeper into the issues at hand. I was not content to simply give my child a pill and "zombify" him because it was the easy thing to do. I wanted to help him, not "fix" him. He didn't need to be fixed because he wasn't broken.
My hope for this World Autism Awareness Day is that everyone realizes just that.There isn't anything broken about them they're just wired differently than the rest of us. People with autism don't need to be fixed, they need to be understood. Isn't that what everyone wants?
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