I’ve been thinking about Awareness a lot lately. Everything is done under the guise of “awareness.”
Buy puzzle piece ribbons and clothes and magnets to become more “aware” of autism.
Buy pink for breast cancer awareness. Buy purple for domestic abuse awareness. Buy red for AIDS awareness.
At this point, who isn’t “aware” of autism?
IS AWARENESS ENOUGH?
I saw something on Instagram the other day. It went something like this: When my child is having a major tantrum in the grocery store, and screaming his head off, I like to think I’m spreading autism awareness – loudly.
How long does it take for awareness to grow into acceptance or understanding?
Or does it ever? I’m certainly aware of all kinds of things, but I don’t really know anything about them: Duck Dynasty, NASCAR, women – are just three examples!
Is the better question “How can we turn awareness into acceptance and understanding?”
I’ve kind of touched on this before. The spectrum that is ASD is so vast and all-encompassing, it’s hard to really hone in on anything that’s universal. Even the color of the ribbon – it’s a bunch of brightly linked colors in the shape of puzzle pieces. This very emblem embodies the complexity and variety that is ASD. There’s no unifying person or celebrity. Temple Grandin is a wonderful spokeswoman, but she’s nothing like my Jacob. Kim Peek, the uber-genius portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man is a remarkable story, but again, nothing like Jake. Jake isn’t the crying, flapping, rocking, head banging/hair pulling extreme, and he’s not the quirky scientist engineer type either.
Too often those with ASD can’t express themselves thoroughly enough for us “neurotypicals” to get our fill of their insight. Like I posted yesterday, I don’t even really know my son. I know him better than almost anyone on the planet, but not in the way I know my other children.
How then, can I expect you, the public, to understand what he’s going through and accept him for who he is (not what he can or cannot do), when I struggle with that myself?
Current CDC data shows that 1 in 150 children born will be on the autism spectrum. In Maine, it’s 1 in 88. There are over four times as many boys diagnosed as girls. In this day and age, the chances are pretty good that you know a kid with autism. Odds are, he’s a young boy.