April is: National Autism Awareness Month.
The Month of the Military Child.
National Mental Health Month.
Occupational Therapy Month.
Better Hearing and Speech Month.
You probably didn't know all that. Or, maybe you're like me and spend time in waiting rooms plastered with brochures and pamphlets about the aforementioned Month of Titles. Maybe you've read about all the things that seem so easy to so many people that are actually quite complicated and can be thrown into chaotic disruption by any number of seemingly minute differences in body chemistry and brain function. There's enough information out there to make your head spin if you're like me and choose to read it. If you are, then allow me to introduce you to another April title: Alcohol Awareness Month. And not for nothing, but it is also (dovetailing with the last title, perhaps?) National STD Awareness and Education Month. Party responsibly, everyone.
In these brochures and fliers and awareness campaigns, we learn a lot. Or maybe not. Maybe we only learn a sound bite that we can easily remember. Or maybe we only learn what color ribbon we should be wearing to support the cause. Maybe we only identify awareness with a color for our porches. Awareness may only involve a day rather than an entire month for some of us. Though, of course, autism and any other condition to which a month has been designated, does not only appear for a month. I'll be hanging with autism and military kids 24/7/365. And there is no awareness campaign that could ever teach me more than that time together has. Because that time together has taught me more than facts, studies, brochures, commercials, events, celebrity appearances, fundraisers, and walk-a-thons ever could. The time I have spent being a mother to Sweet Girl and Little Man taught me everything I ever really needed to know....and sometimes didn't want to.
1. There is a vast and global autism community that is about as cohesive as Congress. This was shocking to me. While it's true that autism runs a wide spectrum and affects people in greatly varying manners, I naively thought everyone who was navigating this different parenting journey would be open to the greatly varying parenting choices being made. I was wrong. Moreover, I should have known better. Humans are humans. We do not like what we don't understand (in fact it scares us - name the movie lyric!) and we often negate the choices of others to validate our own. Humans dealing with autism are no different. I have learned that it is important to be informed of both the ideas and practices with which I already agree and with those which I have no experience: this is uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Growth is not easy. Sweet Girl taught me that. And we do not grow if we do not challenge ourselves.
|Is it wrong that I still find him|
sexy in this picture?
3. Communication is not always about words. I've written about it several times. I love all kinds of words. I love the process of stringing them together. I love sorting through the grandiose and odd structure of the English language to find the perfect gem of a word and placing it in the perfect setting to make a sum greater than its parts. I haven't figured out how to do that yet, but I still like to try. Words are an amazement to me. So imagine my melancholy when Sweet Girl struggled with words to the point of frustration and silence. Now I understand that she never stopped communicating with me, though she may have been silent for a period. I just needed to learn a different way of listening. Once I stopped focusing on the fact that she couldn't do something, I was able to see (and hear) what she could. It was a different way. It still is a different way for us, and we are still learning how to refine our particular method of communication, but that does not make it any less effective. This is something that we all can learn through acceptance rather than just awareness.
4. Fair is just a four-letter word. I teach middle school students. "Fair" is possibly the most over
|Everyone should get to see baseball!|
|Love this book!|