April is Autism awareness month. So as you may think, there are lots of videos, articles, etc about Autism being shared. Most show how someone with autism has ‘overcome’ a struggle like going from being mainly nonverbal to a communicating with the outside world by use of an AAC device. Or maybe it is a news clip about how a town rallied around a member with autism to give them a ‘special day’ or help them achieve a goal. These are wonderful, touching, heartwarming moments that should be shared, but remember, they are just moments. These ‘feel good’ bits of media that float around the internet don’t show you all the struggles and what daily life may really be like for these people and their families. They don’t show you what it took to get to that ‘moment’ that your local news highlighted or what happened after it was done.
Those acts of kindness or moments of triumph are glimpses from a day that you watch and then move on from. However, those families and people still continue to live with Autism. While that day probably meant so much more than words can adequately describe to those families and people, it doesn’t change that the next they will wake up and continue to live with autism and all that it means for the their child and family. Those clips going viral on Facebook don’t show you the tears, heartaches, headaches, or tantrums. They don’t show you how the family has had to adjust their lives to make their child’s life easier,better,safer, etc. They don’t show what daily life is really like for someone with Autism and their family.
Autism Awareness month is a time to, you guessed it, bring awareness to Autism. While these touching clips are great they kind of miss the mark. While they highlight accomplishments and do talk about Autism, they really don’t share too much about what the general can do or should know about Autism. There are lots of great resources out there that you can check out to learn more about Autism and what you can do. Here is a post with 10 Communication Tips When Talking to Someone With Autism. You can see if there are any facilities in your area that may be offering presentations on Autism to learn more. If you could take away one thing from Autism Awareness Month, I would hope it would be that all people with Autism are not the same, even though they may have the same diagnosis. They are not all Rain Man or Sheldon. They are not all savants. They are all people with feelings, wants, and desires. They just may express those feelings, wants, and needs differently. So show patience, don’t stare, be compassionate, talk to them, treat them as you would want someone to treat you. Remember, Autism isn’t a feel good movie, it is a way of life.