Why I will Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month.

I've seen some heated debates the last few days about "celebrating" autism. 

"Why would you celebrate autism?  These people have difficult lives, plagued with language disorders, sensory processing disorders, gastrointestinal problems, seizures - the list goes on and on!"

Then there's the "other side" that says if you don't celebrate autism, then you aren't accepting your child as they are, and you are a terrible parent for not loving the fact that your child has autism.  "Why would you want to change your child?!"

It's just like everything else in life:  you can't please everyone, and someone is going to be offended by whatever side you choose. 

Since this is my blog, I get to say what I think about it!  Here's my two cents:

I WILL be celebrating Autism Awareness month, and here's why:

because I love my son who has autism.

You see, when I became a mom, I knew it would be my job to prepare my kids for the outside world.  It would be my responsibility to teach them about strangers, bullies, and being kind to others.  It is my job to teach them about God.  I would be the one teaching them how to cross the road safely, teach them how to swim, and teach them how to brush their teeth.  When I became a parent, I signed up for all that stuff.

What I didn't know is that I would have to teach the world about my son.  The day he received his autism diagnosis, though, I gained a new title:  advocate.

Both of my sons are amazing - the neurotypical one and the one who has autism.  I want the world to know that...no, scratch that, I need the world to know that.  So I will celebrate Autism Awareness Month. 

To me, April is the time that we shine a light on autism.  We are celebrating the unique, au-mazing, wonderful individuals who happen to have autism. 

So we advocate.  We share our stories - the struggles and the triumphs.  We highlight the amazing things that our kids can do despite the barriers before them.  We join together as the autism community and raise awareness.

...because autism awareness leads to autism acceptance. 

At this point, I think most people know about autism.  Just knowing about it, well that is awareness.  Now, we push for acceptance.

I want my son to live in a world that accommodates his needs without seeing it as an imposition.
I want my son to live in a world where people see him for who is and love him for it.
I want my son to live in a world that acknowledges his struggles, and celebrates his victories.
I want my son to live in a world that sees his value and encourages him to pursue his dreams. 
I want my son to live in a world that loves and accepts him for who is.

It is my responsibility to create that world. 

It is my responsibility to be his voice.  It is my responsibility to fight for the things that he needs.  It is my responsibility to educate others.  Acceptance starts with me.  It starts with you.  Doctor Seuss said it best: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothings going to get better, it's not."  We can't just expect things to change - it takes action from those of us who care a whole awful lot.

Our advocacy shouldn't stop on April 30.  No, it is my mission to advocate for my son - and all on the spectrum - every day of the year.  April might be the "official" Autism Awareness Month, but I am declaring every month "Autism Acceptance Month." 

Now, bring it, April.  Here I come!


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